‘CSI’ Lightens Up with Danson, Helgenberger Confirms Last Season

Marg Helgenberger, Ted Danson (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Marg Helgenberger, Ted Danson (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

There’s another changing of the guard lurking at “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

Just as Ted Danson comes on board this season to replace the exiting Laurence Fishburne comes confirmation that Marg Helgenberger will be leaving the show at the end of this 12th season. Helgenberger has been a part of the “CSI” team playing Catherine Willows since the show began in 2000.

Helgenberger, 52, delivered the news herself to TV critics Wednesday in Beverly Hills during the TCA press tour. When asked by a reporter if this would be her last season, she said, “Yes.”

The actress has been talking about leaving Las Vegas for some time and explained why she decided to stick around for one more year.

“Yes, I was planning on leaving last season, and [executive producer Carol Mendelsohn] asked if we could wrap it next season, so the combination of that and, honestly, me having a hard time letting go of this show, I thought yeah, I’m not done yet playing this character. That’s why I decided to extend it a little bit.”

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It’s too early to say how Willows will exit, but the introduction of Danson’s character D.B. Russell, who’s the new team supervisor, might be a clue – Catherine gets demoted.

“The Langston departure has had a long reach and there’s been some fall out and it has shaken things up,” revealed Mendelsohn.

“Yeah, there’s a little bit of resentment there,” Helgenberger added. “Ted’s character is really endearing and has a nice perspective on things, but he gets under everyone’s skin – in a good way.”

As for the out-of-the-blue casting of Danson in the crime procedural, no one was more surprised than the actor himself.

“I was surprised, thrilled,” Danson says when he got the call that he’d gotten the role. “My jaw’s still hanging down.”

As for what Danson’s presence brings to the dynamic of the team, Mendelsohn says viewers can expect this season’s tone to be “lighter” than last year, which featured a harrowing serial killer story arc.

CBS Released the First Look at Ted Danson as D.B. Russell on “CSI”:

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