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Zuiker: Fishburne to join CSI cast after Peterson departs

On the eve of his 40th birthday, Anthony Zuiker was talking weight. Not his own, but the weight – as in gravity and credibility – of his CSI television franchise. And on that point, he let loose that Laurence Fishburne, an inarguably weighty actor, is all but certain to replace William Peterson on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the original Zuiker-produced drama set in Las Vegas.

Peterson, who signed a new contract in March, announced that he will be leaving the show after this season, his 10th as a full-time regular. Fishburne is expected to step in after Peterson departs.

Zuiker, a Vegas native who still lives in town, was enjoying a low-profile semi-private 40th birthday celebration at last night’s Midsummer Night’s Party at the Palms Pool when he disclosed Fishburne’s imminent arrival.

“I believe that we’re officially closed on Laurence Fishburne, or are very close,” Zuiker said. “He’s a great actor who adds a level of weight to the series, which is very, very important, and although Billy’s irreplaceable, the show must go on, and what a great way to go on with a great actor like Laurence Fishburne. Bill Peterson has been the glue of the franchise, so replacing him is a really tough thing and you need a weighty actor to step in after Billy.”

John Malkovich was also rumored to be in contention for a role in the show. Peterson will remain on board as an executive producer, and in published interviews has not ruled out returning occasionally as Gil Grissom.

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