Melrose Place

Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and Colin Egglesfield are leaving the cast of Melrose Place, TVGuide.com has confirmed.

CW orders full season of Vampire Diaries, more Melrose Place

Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin, the executive producers of the ratings-challenged drama, said that the changes are part of a plan to alter the show's tone after the first 12 episodes, most of which concern a murder mystery. Simpson-Wentz and Egglesfield's last episodes will air in January, according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello, who first reported the news. The CW confirmed details of the actors' departures.

In a statement, Simpson-Wentz said: "Having the chance to play Violet on Melrose Place has been a thrill. Although I always knew her story would come to a final, insanely unpredictable end, playing a creepy, unstable character was something I always wanted to do, so I jumped at the chance. Thanks to the CW and the entire cast and crew of  Melrose Place for allowing me this opportunity!" 

A call for comment from Egglesfield was not immediately returned. 

After the murder story line is wrapped up, a new character — an as-yet-uncast physician who works at the same hospital as Lauren and is described as "irreverent and funny" — will move into the Place.

The bitch is back: Heather Locklear returns to Melrose Place

TVGuide.com has also confirmed that Heather Locklear, who first shows up in the Nov. 17 episode, will appear in every subsequent episode for the rest of the season. Billy Campbell (Once and Again) has been cast as her love interest.

What do you think of the casting changes? Are you looking forward to Heather Locklear's arrival?