Ted Danson is the new lead cop/scientist on the long running CBS crime drama CSI. Danson takes the spot that was vacated last month by Laurence Fishburne after CBS decided not to renew his contract. Danson has been a television staple for more than 30 years since his days as Sam Malone on Cheers. Since then he has starred in the sitcom Becker, the cable drama Damages and the HBO series Bored to Death.
EW reports that Ted Danson‘s CSI deal is still being finalized but that he will sign on to play the new graveyard shift leader of the Las Vegas CSI. No name for Danson’s character as of yet but his background has him as the former leader of CSI Portland coming to Las Vegas to take over as the team recovers from the difficult takedown of serial killer Nate Haskell.
Entertainment Weekly further reported that CSI producers were determined to get a big name star to head the series as it enters its 12th season and makes the move to Wednesday nights. Offers allegedly went out to Tony Shalhoub, Robin Williams and John Lithgow before settling on Ted Danson.
Not only is Laurence Fishburne leaving CSI but co-star Marg Helgenberger is stepping back. The star who has played CSI Katherine Willows since the series began will reportedly appear in only a handful of episodes in the 2011-2012 season. As for co-stars Jorja Fox, George Eads and Wallace Langham, whose contracts were also up this season, there is no word yet on their contract status. For now, each of CSI‘s supporting players are expected to back up Ted Danson this fall.
CSI is no stranger to cast turn over. The series experienced an erosion of viewers in 2009 when star William Petersen left the show and was replaced by Fishburne. Gary Dourdan, who played CSI Warrick Brown, left the show in 2008 when CBS did not pick up his contract. Jorja Fox had left the show for a time in 2008 as well but returned to the series as a regular in 2010.
CSI returns to CBS with Ted Danson on September 21st, on a new night and time, Wednesdays at 10 Pm ET, 9 Pm CT.