Page last updated at 08:40 GMT, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 09:40 UK

Fishburne to head up CSI TV team

Laurence Fishburne
Fishburne starred as Morpheus in The Matrix

Actor Laurence Fishburne has been drafted in to replace William Petersen in the hit TV drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

The Matrix star is joining the hit series as a forensic scientist.

Petersen, who plays Gil Grissom, will now only make guest appearances on the programme, but will remain as an executive producer.

Fishburne, 47, admitted he had never watched CSI before he was cast in the Las Vegas-based show.

He said he had now watched past episodes and found them "kind of dark and moody, like the work I've been involved in".

William Petersen
Petersen will remain an executive producer of CSI

This will be Fishburne's first major TV series role, having made his name in movies and in the theatre, winning an Oscar nomination and a Tony award.

Among his varied film credits are Othello, Mission Impossible III and Mystic River.

He will join CSI part way through the 10th season, playing a college professor who eventually joins the team of forensic scientists.

Executive producer Naren Shankar said the show would survive Petersen's departure.

"What makes shows go off the rails is they forget who they are. We're a crime-mystery-forensics drama, and that won't change," he said.

Gary Dourdan, who played Warrick Brown, was also written out of the show at the end of the last series. Off-screen he agreed to complete drug counselling after he was arrested for possession of cocaine and ecstasy.

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