CBS announces Ted Danson as successor to Laurence Fishburne on CSI in the dead of night
It was a little like learning Mr. Rogers would take a role in Sweeney Todd just before going to bed.
But CBS' announcement Tuesday night that former Cheers star and Hollywood nice guy Ted Danson would be the new star of its classic forensic crime drama CSI had more than a few fans and critics scratching their heads -- especially because the network issued the news after 10 p.m. eastern standard time, well after the deadlines of many newspapers.
Just as well. Even though Danson has a reputation for surprising critics with roles that run against his good-guy image -- including playing an egotistical corporate CEO villain on FX's Damages and a long-running turn as the lovable misanthrope hero on Becker -- it's still tough to imagine him sorting through body parts on CBS' crime thriller.
It's an interesting time for the show that was once CBS' flagship drama. Fishburne never really jelled as the show's new star after the departure of original hero William Petersen, cast against type as a button-down professor turned forensics tech. Now Danson will have the challenge of bringing life to an 11-year-old show that is also losing its other signature star, Marg Helgenberger, who has signed for just 19 episodes of the next season.
Of course, Danson has done well in recent years, earning critical raves for Damages, his role as a modifies version of himself on pal Larry David's HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm and a recent turn as a self-involved publisher on anther HBO comedy, Bored to Death -- which he'll continue working on while performing on CSI.
With Tom Selleck toplining another CBS cop show, Blue Bloods, it continues CBS' habit of casting longtime TV stars in big series. And it may end the networks brief flirtation with making those heroes people of color, since Fishburne, Forest Whitaker and Freddie Rodriguez all ended roles on CBS this past season.
Still, CBS needed a surprising star if it hoped to keep its aging franchise alive. And they have certainly got one in Hollywood good guy Danson, who just might keep the public interested in CSI for at least one more season -- if only to see whether Sam Malone can actually solve a few crimes while reviving the network's first modern crime procedural success.
TED DANSON TO STAR IN "CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION”
Multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award Winner to Debut in the Season Premiere
LOS ANGELES - July 12, 2011 — Multiple Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner Ted Danson will join the cast of CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, in a series regular role, on the CBS Television Network. His character will debut in the season premiere on Wednesday, September 21 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT).
Danson will play the new CSI Supervisor for the grave shift after heading the crime lab in Portland. He comes to the team as they are still grappling with the professional and personal fallout from last season's take-down of serial killer, Nate Haskell.
"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," said Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn. "We're very excited Ted Danson came along."
"From the moment we all started talking about the role, it was clear he couldn't be more perfect," said Executive Producer Don McGill. "Intelligence, wit, warmth, depth of character and emotion, he brings it all. And now he'll have to bring latex gloves, too."
Ted Danson will remain a series regular on the critically acclaimed HBO series, “Bored to Death.” He has also recently garnered accolades for his roles on “Damages” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Ted Danson will next be seen starring opposite Drew Barrymore and John Krasinsky in “Everybody Loves Whales” to be released in January 2012. Mr. Danson recently published his first book, Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save them, currently available in book stores.
Now entering its 12th season, CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION is the most-watched television show in the world. CSI is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Jerry Bruckheimer Television. The executive producers are Jerry Bruckheimer, Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony Zuiker, Don McGill, Jonathan Littman and Louis Milito.