William Petersen by Robert Voets/CBS William Petersen by Robert Voets/CBS

The evidence is in and it's irrefutable: Grissom will remain on the CSI beat for at least one more season - albeit with an asterisk.

Sources confirm to me exclusively that William Petersen - whose pact with the show was set to expire in May - has agreed to stick around through the 2008-09 TV season. Although the specifics of his new deal were not disclosed, a CSI insider tells me it's both lucrative (read: reportedly 600K per episode, up from 500K) and brimming with "out" clauses (read: the asterisk I spoke of earlier).

In fact, Petersen already has his first "out" lined up: This fall, the actor will return to the stage in Conor McPherson's A Dublin Carol, which kicks off a six-week run in his hometown of Chicago in mid-November. As you'll recall, Petersen missed four episodes of CSI in early 2007 to headline a Rhode Island production of Dublin Carol. Shakespearean thesp Liev Schreiber stepped in to fill the Grissom void, only to get shot to death in his final episode.

So, CSI worshippers: Are you relieved Petersen didn't follow in the footsteps of his ex-leading lady Jorja Fox and up and quit the show? Yes? No? Indifferent? Also, should producers once again look to the theater world for Petersen's replacement, got any suggestions? Roger Bart? Cheyenne Jackson? Christine Ebersole? Mary Poppins? Post any/all casting tips below, and don't be afraid to think outside the box!