Laurence Fishburne is to join the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, it has been confirmed.

The Matrix actor will make his first appearance in the ninth episode of the ninth season of the hit television drama, while leading man William Petersen, who plays Gil Grissom, will only make guest appearances in future.

Emmy and Tony award-winner Fishburne, 47, is to play a character - currently dubbed "the professor" - who crosses paths with Grisson in episodes nine and ten of the new season.

"[Gil] will definitely have an opinion on who this guy is," said executive producer Naren Shankar. "The idea is to see a lot of Billy [Petersen] and Laurence together."

Petersen is to remain on the show as an executive producer though Carol Mendelsohn - who holds the same title - was reluctant to reveal the manner of his character's exit, saying: "We're not going to tell you how he's leaving."

However, she explained that signing up Oscar-nominee Fishburne to appear was a longstanding goal for the production team.

"This has been months in the making," she told the Hollywood Reporter.

"We have been talking about the character we wanted to create and pursuing our dream casting, which is Laurence Fishburne."

Fishburne admitted that he had never actually seen the hit drama before agreeing to star as a former pathologist turned college lecturer.

"The episodes they sent to me were really engaging and wonderful and kind of dark and moody," he continued.

"It was like a lot of work that I had actually been involved in, so I thought, 'Wow, that's cool. This'll work.'"

19/08/2008 12:11:48