'CSI' Search Focuses on Laurence Fishburne
'Matrix' star is in talks play a character filling the void left by the departing William Petersen
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fishburne is in talks to play a new character in the "CSI" family, a doctor with a very particular genetic profile.
"He is an outsider coming into the CSI unit," CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler told reporters last month at the Television Critics Association press tour. "He comes in not immediately as the boss, but he has an interesting genetic profile that in certain sort of medical contexts, they've noticed that many times serial killers have that same genetic profile. And this gentleman knows this about himself and is sort of in this journey and -- and to discover who his true character will ultimately become."
Petersen, longtime star and executive producer on the highly rated drama, is expected to depart "CSI" after the season's 10th episode, though the show's team will make his exit open-ended enough to allow for possible sweeps-timed cameos.
The new season of "CSI" will feature the return of Jorja Fox's Sara Sidle and the introduction of a new character played by Lauren Lee Smith, but with Petersen refocusing his creative energies and Gary Dourdan's future on the show in rather extreme flux, there was always going to be an opening for a strong male lead.
Early rumors focused on John Malkovich, who Tassler acknowledged was at least briefly in the discussion, Kurt Russell and Fishburne. At press tour, Tassler did little to deflect that speculation.
"Did you see his show in New York?" Tassler said of Fishburne's recent acclaimed performance as Thurgood Marshall. "He was amazing, so he's certainly a name that had been talked about as well."
A Tony winner for August Wilson's "Two Trains Running" and an Oscar nominee for "What's Love Got to Do with It," Fishburne would certainly help "CSI" retain its star wattage in Petersen's absence. In addition, Fishburne already has a pair of Emmys, as producer on "Miss Evers' Boys" and for guest starring on " Tribeca," though his most famous small screen credit may be his turn as Cowboy Curtis on "Pee-wee's Playhouse."