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October 9, 2015

Fishburne is the $14 million man

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 26th 2009 10:05AM
larry fishburneWhen William Petersen left CSI, he left a very, very cushy job. He was making a cool $600,000 per episode, more than Kiefer Sutherland was getting for 24, but not quite as much as Charlie Sheen was taking home for Two and a Half Men ($825,000 per show).

Well, CSI decided not to skimp when they cast Laurence Fishburne to assume the star spot on the crime drama. Fishburne is earning more than $14 million for this season of CSI. (So much for a recession!)

That's about as much as Petersen was making, give or take, and commensurate with a movie star making the foray into TV. And, thus far, Fishburne has earned every cent. The CBS procedural has not missed a beat since Petersen's exit. In fact, the Fishburne for Petersen switch-out has been like all those changes on Law & Order. Throughout that NBC run, from Michael Moriarty to Sam Waterson, Steven Hill to Fred Dalton Thompson, the show just keeps ticking along, proving that the show is the star, not the actors.

That, of course, then begs the question: would CBS have done as well with a star who cost half as much as Laurence Fishburne? You have to wonder, especially in light of the fact that this is the same show that scrimped on the supporting players (George Eads and Jorja Fox) a few years back when they wanted more money.

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A Good lead-character is indeed a boon, but good supporting characters does not hurt either.. And I think one of the best support characters is the ever so grumpy but also kindhearted Chief Medical Examiner Robbins.

I will certainly miss him a lot if he should decide to dissappear, as well as Marg Helgenbergers character Willow (She's one helluva strong presence in the show. Kind of a mother hen for the rest of the cast)

March 30 2009 at 5:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jan Crump

I, for one, was not sure I'd keep watching after Grissom left. I didn't know Fishburn as an actor, but I have to give kudos to the show. The way they brought him in, didn't just "replace" Grissom with a like character has been great. I'm still watching and enjoying and that is wonderful because this has always been one of my favorite shows. Both Richard and Paul said it correctly. Good dynamics!

March 26 2009 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The new team in general, with Catherine and Nick taking the prominent positions, and Riley and Langston being the new kids on the block. The whole dynamic has worked way better than I thought it would.

March 26 2009 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Fishburne's character. I was very sad about Grissom leaving, but you're right...the show hasn't missed a beat. I think the person making the financial decisions for CSI knows what they are doing.

March 26 2009 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joanne's comment

I am sorry I disagree, I thought Fishbourne would work but I think his character comes across rather flat. I think
loosing Warrick & Grisham practically back to back has hurt the show immensely, I did not care for Sara so her leaving was no big deal. But loosing Grisham was a major blow to this show & I will continue to watch but it has lost it's major appeal that it had for me.

April 25 2009 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One of the great things about Fishburne is that he was not put as head of the team. It is a return to the first couple of years when we all get to learn about crime scene investigating and it is good!

March 26 2009 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is a very smart move. No way do they wanna risk losing him. Besides, isn't CSI the #1 drama on TV? They can afford it.

I was just thinking last week how amazingly well the transition has been at CSI. Fishburne fits in so well. While I miss Grissom, I'm very happy with CSI's new star.

March 26 2009 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fox and Eads weren't leads on the show and the problem with raising their salaries is that the other actors like Dourdan, Guilfoyle and Hall would've had to have their salaries raised too - the show would've had little to no financial room for the move they had to do here with Petersen who was clearly going to leave the show later on.

Also I think Petersen was the clear lead in this show and exchanging the lead can't be done with tier two actors. As much as I've praised him in my article on CC I think George Eads isn't THAT good. He's an ok actor who's exactly where he belongs, in the second row on a couple of DVD boxes of the show :-)

Fishbourne was the right move for a couple of reasons - a) he might be a A to B list movie actor but he has gravitas and b) he fills the african american quota on the show c) he can play "mysterious guy" very well and is a good replacement for Grissom in his role of Dr. Langston.

I think the CSI formula is based on a strong lead character - look at the other two, same deal. It worked on a lot of shows, like Stargate - and didn't on others, like "My own worst enemy" - which only reminds you that if you don't have a good writing staff you are doomed anyway. The reason why Fox and Eads looked good and thought they deserved more money maybe was because the writers and directors made them look this good. I mean look at Fox, she's been on ER and CSI, both excellently written and directed shows with high production value, of course you start thinking it's all you not the work environment. But in the case of Fishburne it's really that little extra actors like him can give to make the words on paper become brilliant.

How bothed up Morpheus' speech sounds if done bad you can always find out when you are german and listen to the translation. I'll never ever watch the Matrix in german again. All the power in Fushburne's voice is gone and the translation is idiotic.

Anyway, I'm rambling. This was worth talking about, thanks Allison :-)

March 26 2009 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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