'CSI': Ted Danson Replaces Laurence Fishburne

Ted Danson Headshot 2011
David Livingston/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01:  Actor Ted Danson attends the 16th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Day 2 at USC on May 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. 

Ted Danson is joining CBS’ flagship CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

The former Cheers star replaces Laurence Fishburne as the new team leader. The news of Fishburne's departure came as a surprise to viewers and industry folk alike last month. The Oscar-nominated actor had spent two-and-a-half seasons on the procedural.

Danson, an Emmy and Golden Globe winner, will play the new CSI supervisor for the grave shift after heading the crime lab in Portland. He comes to the team as it is still grappling with the professional and personal fallout from last season’s take-down of serial killer Nate Haskell (Bill Irwin).

“You can create a new character on the page, but until the perfect actor comes along and breathes life into it, it’s just words,” executive producer Carol Mendelsohn said in a statement announcing the casting Tuesday. “We’re very excited Ted Danson came along.”

The once top-rated CSI has seen its ratings drop since original star William Petersen departed the show in December 2008. The series posted its lowest-rated finale ever in May, drawing 11.4 million viewers and a 2.6 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. Still, CSI stands as the most-watched series in the world, spawning two spinoffs which are licensed in more than 200 markets globally.

Danson will make his debut in CSI’s Season 12 premiere -- in the series’ new time slot -- on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10 p.m.

The actor also remains a series regular on HBO's Bored to Death. Danson, whose recent credits also include Damages, is repped by CAA and Industry Entertainment. 

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