‘CSI’ Season 12 Casts Ted Danson To Replace Laurence Fishburne

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 7th, 2013 at 8:43 am,

After just two and a half seasons of replacing William Petersen, film star Laurence Fishburne announced he would be calling it quits on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - leaving fans to speculate about who would fill the void left in his wake. Now comes word that Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Ted Danson will be joining the crew in Las Vegas.

It has been a spectacularly tumultuous few months for the aging police procedural. First came the announcement that CBS had shifted its timeslot (from Thursday to Wednesday), then news that Fishburne would depart – and it seemed as though things were deteriorating rapidly on the show.

Now, however, in a clever piece of casting (that may just be the spark needed to get over the absence of a particular cast member), CSI has chosen to bring television veteran Ted Danson to the scene of the crime.

Reportedly, the network initially sought another movie star for the role, but thought better of the idea and began to look at seasoned television actors who could embody the specific character the writers and producers had cooked up to replace Fishburne.

Danson’s role will be more akin to Peterson’s Gil Grissom, and less that of Fishburne’s darker Ray Langston character. According to the network’s announcement, “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.”

Of course, the series’ producers are thrilled at landing such well-known and celebrated television star.

According to Carol Mendelsohn, executive producer on the show, “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. We’re very excited Ted Danson came along.”

Executive producer Don McGill had this to say about Danson’s casting:

“From the moment we all started talking about the role, it was clear he couldn’t be more perfect. Intelligence, wit, warmth, depth of character and emotion, he brings it all. And now he’ll have to bring latex gloves, too.”

Danson is best remembered for his Emmy winning role on the long-running NBC sitcom Cheers. In fact, Danson was nominated 11 years in a row for his portrayal of former major-league-pitcher-turned-bar-owner Sam Malone (he won twice).

Fishburne Petersen CSI CSI Season 12 Casts Ted Danson To Replace Laurence Fishburne

After Cheers, Danson worked at CBS on the sitcom Becker, then the short-lived sitcom Ink. The actor briefly jumped to ABC for Help Me Help You, but like Ink, the show didn’t go anywhere. Recently, Danson won acclaim (and yet another Emmy nomination) for his role in the former FX series Damages. As of late, however, he’s been hanging with the HBO crowd – in appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm and sharing the screen with Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis on Bored to Death.

Though he’s recently completed filming season three of Bored to Death, fans will be happy to hear that Danson’s deal with the network allows him to continue his work on the quirky HBO comedy – in addition to his new CSI duties.

Though it was once the mightiest show in the CBS arsenal – having spawned two spin-offs in the process – CSI has seen a significant dip in the ratings. Perhaps it is because of the exit made by CSI mainstay Gil Grissom (William Petersen) in 2008 – despite a brief return this season. Another cause may be that the show is simply beginning to show its age.

Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that CSI is the most watched show in the world. That alone bolsters the belief held by both CBS and the show’s producers that there is enough left in the tank for a few more laps around the track.


Ted Danson will join the cast of CSI on Wednesday, September 21 @10pm.

Source: Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter

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  1. Wow, that’s sorta brilliant. I’ll be adding CSI back to my DVR.

  2. The more I think about this casting news, the more I like it. I don’t follow the man’s personal life, but it’s undeniable that he has what it takes to lead an ensemble and to attract a major audience. He was often the very best part of every scene he had on Damages, which made me forget all about Sam Malone. I have to say, I’m curious to see what sort of back story they give him. Something about him wielding a gun seems cool in my mind, though. Hope he can portray a convincing scientist/investigator as it sounds more and more like the network is hinging the franchise on his shoulders.

    Out of curiosity, is there any word on who else was being considered for the lead? I seem to remember Laurence Fishburne had won the role over Kurt Russell and John Malkovich.

    • No one is coming to compair to William Petersen, Grissom was the best character ever to be on csi, I wish they would just bring him back, the show hasn’t been the same since he left. =(

  3. Nice.

  4. Ted Danson a CSI, seems unbelievable!

  5. Where is Peterson, loved him!

  6. Just bring back Grissom.

  7. I’m really looking forward to Ted Danson joining the cast. This may really be what the show needs.

  8. I’m not sure about this one, I hear good things and then I don’t, I haven’t seen any of his work

    Hopefully this is just the shot in the arm my favorite show needs

    • You have NEVER seen any of Ted Danson’s work?!?! How is that possible…

    • I cannot believe you have not seen ANY of Ted Danson’s work! He will be brilliantg in CS~I I feel sure. Inspired, almost as good as William Petersen, although he will never be replaced Ted Danson is a close second. Fishburne was not a good choice.

  9. I hope he stills has time for his HBO cameos!

  10. Love Ted Danson! Even if he is looking more and more like Herman Munster every day!!! I think he will play a great part for CSI! He’s got what it takes! …..

  11. Sweet A T.V. Veteran like Danson will make the show great again.

    • I so agree! Very sweet ;-)

  12. I hate Ted Danson’s acting. He is a Horrible choice. CSI can ONLY get worse but get this,,,

    Do NOT try to blame the characters. The reason CSI went down hill is because the writing and the story lines began to SUCK!. Fishburne was great in his character. It was the STUPID storyline and the STUPID writing that did it.

    EVERY time they try to do something (in the view of the writers/producers) “Special” or “Unusual” or “Creative”, it IS Terrible!!! EVERYTIME! All the intertwined, convoluted story lines where the crooks start chasing CSI is STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!!! CSI NY does this all the time and It SUCKS all the time!!! In the case of NY though, the characters are not as good as LV. I’m so glad they got rid of Kanakaredes.

    When the story lines get STUPID like this, the show is almost unwatchable. The ONLY thing that keeps one watching is the love of the characters. However, sooner or later, you get so insulted by the stupid situations the characters are put in, you just to leave.

    I often wonder why the writers try to come up with these STUPID convoluted story lines when the best shows are just the simple “who did it and why” stories and how the characters deal with it. The interaction of the characters is more than half the reason to watch the show but it can’t overcome too many stupid storylines. I can think of some of the old CSIs which were SO good, that hey were just brilliant and deeply moving. Not so much any more. Too Bad. I often wonder what it takes to become a TV writer. Sometimes brains doesn’t seem to be one of the qualifications.

    • I agree about Ted Danson, I don’t like that he will be on the show, I seen the premier of season 12 with him in it, blah, wasn’t interesting looking at all.

  13. Morning All. I think Ted should not be in CSI I think Lurence dose a fine job as Ray why dose he want too give up his fine oppatuney anyway I won’t watch if Ted jones because he’s a comedne not an Actor for that part I know.

  14. I’m hoping Ted brings something to the show but I think this should be it’s last season. Don’t drag a good show down by over staying. They may have jumped the shark.

  15. I really think that Ted danson is not a good choice. He won’t bring me any Cheers. When the producers let a talent like Liz Vassey go and Hodges and Wendy “goodbye scene was a farce, the show started going down. I have kept track. To say they could not use her creatively was another way of saying we don’t need you back, we need the money for the Fish. Hodges and Wendy were beginning to draw a following and stars are very protective of their facetime. It was no accident that David Rambo and Naren Shankar left early. They knew something was up and the last seasons ratings were terrible. I agree with the person who talked about “going different directions” etc has never worked out. Go back to what brought you to the top and the actors, including supporting cast. And get back Liz Vassey. She really added to the show.

  16. i would love it if grissom came back GSR!!!!! peterson come back plz

  17. Sorry to see Laurence Fishburne go. Don’t see the appeal with Ted Danson. Maybe he’ll surprise us. Lose Marg Helgenberger.

  18. I just can’t see Ted Danson doing this role at all. His serious acting is mediocre at best. I’ve been a fan of CSI show since it started but I think this will be the death of the show.

  19. While I liked Lawrence Fishbourne as Ray Langston, I think Fishbourne is more of a screen actor than a TV actor. Peterson was great in the role of Grissom, but he grew bored with the show – although what’s he doing now? Anything? I grew bored with the show, mostly because I just think it’s run it’s course. It was interesting in the beginning, but it’s not very true to life and it’s become way too serious. That Nick character has turned out to be an ultra-conservative and I’m sick of hearing his judgmental crap and seeing him shaved like a skin-head. Grow some hair on that character and soften him up a little. I preferred the Greg character as a quirky Abby-type, not as a field agent. I’m hoping Ted Danson can breathe some new life into this tired old show, much like Sela Ward did to CSI New York. They can take CSI Miami off the air as far as I’m concerned. I can’t stand that full-of-himself David Caruso – is there something in his contract that says he has to be in EVERY scene? Can we say Narcissistic Personality Disorder? If Ted Danson is allowed to be quirky and somewhat funny, I think it will give CSI the shot in the arm it needs to survive at least one more season.

  20. Firstly Jeff Goldblum appears in Law & Order, now, Ted Danson joins CSI, can’t say I’ll bother watching in future, 2nd rate comedians and actors, taking the roles more suitable for others. Can’t understand TV Director’s mentality, we’ll be expecting to see Woody pop out from a cupboard on CSI all night now, you can’t expect us to consider anything less for TV viewing veterans, a shame it had to come to this, the show just won’t be the same.

    • Just watched CSI with Ted Danson. I had it recorded on my TiVo. I am a fan. Ted did a good job. It is a better show with him.

  21. This annoucement is the end of CSI. Ted Danson really??

    • Did you see TD on #damages with Glen Close? He is a good actor and he could be the personality that gels the show. Give it a chance.

  22. Morning. I’m going too miss Ray I though he was great at his job & very kind too people & children I think if Nick should leave so dose Ted like his ASS out the CSI ferns I like Greg becouse he mines me of my own nice guy nefew. He loves his Motoercycels. Mimi

  23. Well, now that Marg Helgenberger has confirmed she’s leaving the show at the end of this series, there’ll only be 3 recognised actors left, since the start 11 years ago, George Eades, Paul Guilfoyle and Jorja Fox who only has bit parts anyway these days.
    Me thinks that if CBS had sorted out Gary Dourdan’s contract properly, he wouldn’t have been kicked out of the show, and personally, I think that is when the rot started to set in.
    CBS still says the show is a winner, but, with fewer audiences watching these days, as confirmed on various viewing analysis surveys, and other posts on forums suggesting that the writing has gotten stale and episode ideas are at an all time low.I doubt that CSI will last much longer.

  24. Sorry, I forgot about Greg (Eric Szmanda), but, that doesn’t leave too many veterans left.

  25. I am sooo pleased that Laurence Fishburn is leaving. I never liked him in this show. He just never fit in and he was a poor replacement for William Petersen.

  26. I wish Ted well and I hope he fits in with everyone else. Its going to be hard for him though. No body will EVER fill Petersens shoes.

  27. As a die-hard loyal fan of CSI since the beginning of the show, I was devastated by the season premier. Sorry Ted, but it was like watching paint dry. I guess I will have to settle for watching The Mentalist. The season premier of it was entertaining, as is every episode.

  28. Well, I never liked Ted Danson in anything,, even Cheers. I have to say, though, I didn’t hate him in the first episode. I wasn’t very excited either and the show itself wasn’t one of their better shows. Those that pined over past cast members like Peterson and Gary Dourdan are totally correct. They were dear and are missed but hey,,, people leave work all the time. Who you once thought was un-replacable usually is not. You just have to be careful who you replace them with. I thought Lawrence Fishbourne was great. Again, It was the stupid storyline that killed it.

    But I think it is still possible to turn things around, if they are smart about it (if that is at all possible). Just don’t try to shock me. It always fails. Don’t do stupid totally impossible things (like DNA profiles in 5 minutes and blowing up a surveillance camera image so big you can read the fine print on Danson’s contract). Most people know that’s not possible. I have to repeat that what’s failing the show is the writing. It used to be,, every once and a while you’d get a mediocre one… Now it’s every once and while you get a good one.

    I think it would be cool to fail or not solve a few cases, letting us, the audience, know what they don’t. There are a thousand really clever things that can be done. Overdoing it is where they go wrong.

    Just my opinion