Body count’s unclear at Eye’s ‘CSI’

Eads wants back in the lab; Szmanda snags pay raise

CBS execs may be ready to let fired “CSI” thesp Jorja Fox have her job back, but it’s unclear if colleague George Eads will be so lucky — despite making a public apology of sorts.

Separately, another “CSI” star, Eric Szmanda, has quietly renegotiated his contract for the skein, snagging a healthy raise in the process, insiders said.

CBS and reps for Fox have begun talking about a way to bring the thesp back on to the show. Fox’s reps have maintained that the actress signed a letter promising not to miss work while negotiating for a raise — but that the letter was mailed, not faxed, resulting in the Eye’s decision to fire Fox.

It’s unclear if the letter has reached Fox, but the fact that talks are ongoing indicates that the web is at least willing to hear her case.

There’s been speculation since Sunday that Eads may yet return to the show (Daily Variety, July 19). The actor Tuesday said he has “apologized nine ways to Sunday” for what he claims is “an incredible misunderstanding.” Eads said he’s been trying to reach Viacom co-prexy/co-chief operating officer Leslie Moonves to plead his case, comparing the exec to Charlie from “Charlie’s Angels.”

“I overslept,” Eads said during a news conference to promote his upcoming TNT telepic “Evel Knievel.” “And I don’t mean I overslept 10 minutes, 30 minutes. I woke up white as a sheet 3½ hours after I was supposed to be on the set, and called to say I was on my way to work, and they said, ‘Don’t bother.’ ”

Eads insisted his tardiness was not “because I was holding out for more money.”

“It’s never been about cash for me,” Eads said. “It’s never been about money for me. That’s not what this is about.”

Nonetheless, several industry insiders said that Eads had been seeking a raise from CBS, even though he had three years left on his deal with the net.

Eads predicted the situation would be resolved by week’s end. “If not, a formal statement will be made,” he said. “It should all work itself out.”

CBS fired Eads and Fox last week and shut down production of the show for a week while beginning the process of recasting (Daily Variety, July 16).

While the Fox and Eads situation has been generating headlines, CBS has quietly been talking to other “CSI” thesps about new deals.

With no drama whatsoever, Szmanda last weekly quietly snagged a new deal with extra coin. His character will also take on added responsibilities on the show and be promoted into the field.

Series star Marg Helgenberger is also actively looking for more coin. Cast members on “CSI: Miami” have also approached the Eye about raises as the show enters its third season, but there have apparently been no threats of calling in sick.

A CBS rep declined comment.

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