Ashton Kutcher, Ted Danson, James Spader
Ever feel like your favorite TV shows are sharing the same brain? Thanks to contract negotiations, pilot trends and similar cliff-hangers, we've seen several shows treading similar story line territory already this fall. CSI, Law & Order: SVU, The Office and Two and Half Men all replaced lead characters while NCIS and Castle both saw characters on a shrink's couch. But which shows did it better? Below, we pit them against one another and pick a winner...
Ted Danson, Marg Helgenberger
It's hard to imagine Sam Malone from Cheers needing a maggot wrangler. "I've never seen anything like it," Ted Danson says. Even with silver hair, the Emmy-winning actor looks like a kid who just pulled apart his first earthworm. "You can tell how long a human body has been decomposing by the size of the bugs crawling inside!" And the wrangler's got every variety. "It's incredible, until you think, 'Oh, God. We're talking about dead people.'"
Marg Helgenberger, Ted Danson
Over the summer, veteran CBS procedural CSI had the unenviable task of replacing its series lead for the second time in three seasons. And while a number of stars' names were bandied about, executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Don McGill could think of only one man to follow in the footsteps of Laurence Fishburne and William Petersen: Ted Danson.
Fall Preview: Get scoop on your favorite returning shows
"He's able to do so many things. He's such a smart actor," McGill tells TVGuide.com. "We sort of had a rough idea of what this character of D.B. Russell was. Then, when we saw Ted's name and thought he might be available, I think we both just sparked. He was the guy that we were thinking about."
Still, many found Danson's casting a bit surprising....
Archie Panjabi, Michael C. Hall, Candice Accola
Every week, editors Adam Bryant and Natalie Abrams satisfy your need for TV scoop. Please send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I need some Good Wife scoop! Anything on Kalinda? — Brittany
ADAM: Archie Panjabi says viewers will get new insight into Kalinda's relationship with Will. "The two of them look out for each other a lot," Panjabi says. "I think we'll definitely get to see that in Season 3. They used to spend a lot of time drinking in bars." Given what we now know about Kalinda's history with Peter, we certainly hope nothing happened after those drinks.
Please give us scoop on the new season of Dexter! — Mitchell
NATALIE: The season premiere opens on...
Steven Soderbergh's virus outbreak thriller Contagion fittingly topped what was a pretty sickly weekend box office.
The film, which stars Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, pulled in $23.1 million, according to Box Office Mojo. That was enough to topple three-time champ The Help, which fell to second place with an additional $8.7 million (for a total of $137 million after five weeks).
All told, the box office gross for the weekend's top 10 films was only $66.4 million, the lowest weekend gross this year....
A lot of people think TV is better than movies these days. For many actors, it certainly pays better. Unless you're able to play a superhero, it's tough to get super-rich from big-screen work, so more actors are moving to series TV. The expanded talent pool has given networks and studios extra leverage in negotiating salaries. "There are so few gigantic stars in features and the rest are not making any money," says one industry executive familiar with this year's deal-making. "That's helpful."
The general rule across the TV business is to keep lead performers on new network prime-time series to $125,000 an episode. (Cable networks are going as high as $150,000.) That's not Charlie Sheen money, but it's not bad. "Times that by 22, [and] you can maintain a pretty good lifestyle based on what you were making in features but now you're not," the executive says.
There are always exceptions
Henry Cavill shows off Superman's vaunted power in the first photo from the upcoming film Man of Steel.
Laurence Fishburne to play Perry White in Man of Steel
Marg Helgenberger, Jorja Fox, Ted Danson
The addition of Ted Danson to the CSI cast won't be the only change taking place on the veteran CBS drama in Season 12.
Danson's character, D.B. Russell, is a family man who was raised by hippies and has a healthy relationship with his work. As such, producers suggest that the new season will feature a sunnier tone. "Last season we were chasing a serial killer ... that arc has come to an end," executive producer Carol Mendelsohn said at CBS' fall TV previews. "With the introduction of our new CSI supervisor who has his own process, I think you can say it's a lighter season."
Danson replaces the departing Laurence Fishburne, whose character was last seen ...
Looks like the thing to do after leaving a crime procedural is to join Man of Steel.
Laurence Fishburne, who exited CSI after two seasons, has signed on to the Superman reboot as Daily Planet Editor-in-Chief Perry White, Entertainment Weekly reports.
Laurence Fishburne exits CSI after two seasons
Fishburne is the first black actor to play the part. He succeeds ...
Sam Malone's gone procedural: Ted Danson is returning to broadcast TV, joining the cast of CSI in a leading role.
According to CBS, Danson will play the new grave shift supervisor, moving to Vegas from the Portland crime lab. "He comes to the team as they are still grappling with the professional and personal fallout from last season's take-down ...