Why Fish­burne, ‘CSI’ parted ways


Q: Can you tell me why they are re­plac­ing Lau­rence Fish­burne with Ted Dan­son on “CSI: Crime Scene In­ves­ti­ga­tion”?

Jack Frazee, Grove City, Ohio A: Fish­burne’s con­tract for the CBS crime drama was up af­ter the past sea­son, and the an­nounce­ment of his exit in­di­cated it was his de­ci­sion not to re­turn. That forced the show’s pro­duc­ers to start look­ing for an­other lead­ing man, and though both Fish­burne and Wil­liam Petersen had come to “CSI” from the movie and stage worlds, the se­ries went with a fa­mil­iar tele­vi­sion face in re­cruit­ing Dan­son. He starts his run with the 12th sea­son premiere on Sept. 21.

Q: In the Hall­mark Chan­nel movie “A Valen­tine’s Date,” who played the fe­male judge, and where have we seen her be­fore?

June Hock­ing, Ilion, N.Y. A: It was Cather­ine Hicks, un­doubt­edly best known for the 11 sea­sons she spent play­ing the wife and mother on the WB Net­work/CW se­ries “7th Heaven.” She also had se­ries runs on the day­time se­rial “Ryan’s Hope,” an adap­ta­tion of the movie “The Bad News Bears” and the mys­tery se­ries “Tucker’s Witch.”

As for fea­ture films, Hicks played the mom in the orig­i­nal “Child’s Play” thriller that in­tro­duced the homi­ci­dal doll Chucky, and she was the present-day ally of the En­ter­prise crew in “Star Trek IV: The Voy­age Home.”

Q: Is “Mer­lin” go­ing to re­turn to Syfy? And if so, when?

Dee Brown, Palm Coast, Fla. A: Yes, a fourth sea­son of the saga is com­ing to Syfy. The most the net­work is say­ing about when it will start is “2012.” Colin Mor­gan will be back in the ti­tle role, and Nathaniel Parker (“Star­dust”) will be added to the cast.

Q: For the last few weeks, Cenk Uygur has been miss­ing from MSNBC with no ex­pla­na­tion. Can you please find out what hap­pened to him?

Judy Voll­rath, Racine, Wis. A: He left the net­work af­ter be­ing of­fered a dif­fer­ent on-air po­si­tion. Uygur de­clined it, then spoke out quite openly about his be­lief that he was be­ing de­moted be­cause of his chal­leng­ing ap­proach to politi­cians. Uygur con­tin­ues to prac­tice his style of in­ter­view­ing and com­men­tary as a blog­ger and on the In­ter­net and ra­dio show ti­tled “The Young


Q: What can you tell me about the actress who plays Kensi Blye on “NCIS: Los An­ge­les,” and what hap­pened to her right eye? Den­nis Brooks Sr., |Wind­ham, Maine A: We get a lot of mail about that eye, and the sim­ple an­swer is that Daniela Ruah has a very vis­i­ble birth­mark in it. The actress is of Por­tuguese de­scent, but she was born in Bos­ton, then raised back in Por­tu­gal.

She’s been act­ing since her teens, much of it done over there un­til she landed her role on the CBS spinoff of “NCIS.” Ad­di­tion­ally, Ruah won the first sea­son of “Danca Comigo,” Por­tu­gal’s ver­sion of what is known here as “Danc­ing With the Stars.”

Q: On a 2008 episode of “NCIS” called “In the Zone,” there is an ac­tor who very much re­sem­bles Jack Webb. His char­ac­ter’s name was Ridge­way. Is he re­lated? Pat Leyen­decker, Pasadena,

Md. A: Rick Hoff­man, seen lately on the USA Net­work show “Suits,” is no re­la­tion to “Drag­net” icon Webb.

Q: I re­mem­ber “North and South” be­ing a pro­gram about the Civil War. What year was it made, and who were the main char­ac­ters?

Jeanne Win­nick, Dublin, Ohio A: There ac­tu­ally were three ABC minis­eries in­spired by the John Jakes novel: “North and South,” first shown in 1985; “North and South, Book II” in 1986; and “Heaven and Hell: North and South, Book III” in 1994. The prin­ci­pal char­ac­ters in the first two were Orry Main (played by Pa­trick Swayze) and Ge­orge Haz­ard (James Read), West Point pals who grew up to be on op­po­site sides of the Civil War.

Kirstie Al­ley, David Car­ra­dine, Philip Cas­noff, Les­ley-Anne Down, Ge­nie Fran­cis, Terri Garber and Wendy Kil­bourne (who would marry co-star Read in real life) were among the other prin­ci­pal cast mem­bers of the first two “North and South” dra­mas, and some also ap­peared in the third. They were sup­ported by big-name “guest stars” in­clud­ing El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Hal Hol­brook, James Stewart, Olivia de Hav­il­land, Linda Evans, Robert Wag­ner and Billy Dee Williams.

Send ques­tions of gen­eral in­ter­est via email to tvpipeline@ tri­bune.com. Writ­ers must in­clude their names, cities and states. Per­sonal replies can­not be sent.

Ted Dan­son is the new lead ac­tor on “CSI: Crime Scene In­ves­ti­ga­tion,” be­gin­ning on Sept. 21.

Ac­tor Lau­rence Fish­burne has left the cast of “CSI: Crime Scene In­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

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