Fishburne gone from 'CSI'

From Jonathan Storm's "Eye of the Storm"

Big shake-up in the aging CBS crime lab at CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Two of the lead investigators will be scarce next season.

Laurence Fishburne has decided not to renew his one-year contract to play Ray Langston, who killed his crazy nemesis, Nate Haskell, at the end of the show's 11th season last month. Bill Irwin created one of TV's best villains with the Haskell character and, sad to say, his serial killer was more compelling than Langston, who never caught on with the still-entertaining CSI and made veteran viewers pine for the return of William Peterson's Gil Grissom.

Marg Helgenberger, whose Catherine Willows character has been with the series for all its 251 episodes, announced months ago that she would reduce her role to recurring in 2011-12.

The contracts of other beloved - George Eads (who plays Nick Stokes), Jorja Fox (the endearingly enigmatic Sarah Sidle), Paul Guilfoyle (brassy Capt. Brass), Robert David Hall (medical examiner Al Robbins), and Wallace Langham (who brings just the right eww-factor to lab rat David Hodges) - are in various stages of negotiation. Not sure who-all will be back.

Speaking of EW, executive producer Carol Mendelsohn told Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice that the series is accustomed to uncertainty: "We always start planning for next season without knowing for sure" who will be returning.

Viewer fatigue and the absence of Grissom have pulled the show from its once-dominant ratings position. It finished 11th this season in the Nielsen category of Viewers 2+ (they figure ads don't work if you can't talk), and 30th among the 18-to-49-year-old crowd. Those numbers are far from shabby, but I'm hoping that they reinvigorate the whole thing as it moves to Wednesdays at 10, and that it sticks around for an additional 11 years.

Fresh meat for 'Celebrity Rehab'

From David Hiltbrand's "Dave on Demand"

Well, this is certainly a motley crew Dr. Drew has assembled for the new season of Celebrity Rehab, which begins June 26 on VH1.

Among the troupe checking in to the Pasadena Recovery Center are actress Sean Young (Blade Runner) and Michael Lohan, the celebrity-seeking father of Lindsay. (Hey, does Dr. Drew offer family discounts?)

The title of the reality show has never seemed more dubious. How much recovery work is really possible in an environment where you're being circled 24/7 by camera crews? Not too intrusive. "OK, let's talk about your traumatic childhood. Wait, your nose is shining. Makeup!"

And you have to question how many of the participants really qualify as celebrities.

For the fifth season, the lineup includes Survivor castoff Jessica "Sugar" Kiper, Chinese actress Bai Ling, Amy Fisher (the so-called Long Island Lolita who shot Joey Buttafuoco's wife), Jeremy Jackson (who played David Hasselhoff's son on Baywatch), and former New York Mets pitcher Dwight "Doc" Gooden. (Is he allowed to write his own prescriptions?)

Rounding out the cast is a returning favorite, Steve Adler, who was drummed out of the band Guns N' Roses. Adler is a Celebrity Rehab alum who then got thrown off the sequel, Sober House, for missing the whole point of the exercise. . . .