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William Petersen To Leave 'CSI' Next Season

Producers have confirmed that William Petersen will be leaving 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' by the tenth episode of the upcoming season.

Petersen, who plays Gil Grissom, has agreed to return for guest appearances and will remain a executive producer but his run as an original cast member will end by midseason. Executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar say the decision to leave was Petersen's: "Billy is leaving... But he will remain throughout the run of the series an executive producer. And he will, whenever CBS asks, come back. I don't think you've seen the last of Gil Grissom."

"This will be a year of transition for the show. We always knew it was coming, and I'm glad it didn't come until now," says Mendelsohn. "There's never going to be another William Petersen, and there will never be another Jorja Fox. But we are not out to just replace those actors. We're out to add new characters to the show, and the show will change as a result. But that's a good thing."

As for what to expect, Petersen tells 'Entertainment Weekly' that says you'll see Grissom 'in crisis' following last season's finale: "As a man. As a scientist. As a teacher. As a middle-aged person who has been very successful at what he's done... but he wonders, 'What's the point?'. It's all of a sudden becoming more difficult for him to do his job. What had been a sort of fun job for him to do, because he loved the solving of the riddle, has become ever more taxing and difficult."

Jorja Fox is slated to return for multiple episodes next season, starting with the season premiere, and it's speculated that the two will end up together now that Petersen is leaving, but that's something Petersen doesn't want to say much about: "I wouldn't want to say exactly what we're going do. I want people to watch, certainly. But Sara is involved... It's often darkest just before the dawn."

'CSI' has lost three original cast members in a year's time -- adding Petersen's depature to Jorja Fox and Gary Dourdan's exits last season -- and while this may not cause ratings to take a immediate dive, it's certainly the biggest challenge the show will face since it debuted in 2000.

July 16, 2008 |

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