Toe tags go on ‘CSI’ pair

CBS brass gets tough on actors

This article was updated at 10:00 p.m.

Blood is on the floor at “CSI.”

CBS has fired thesps George Eads and Jorja Fox from the hit Eye drama for breach of contract.

Eye execs, apparently drawing a line in the sand, made the decision to sack Eads after the actor — looking for a pay hike — failed to show up for work Thursday, the first day of production on the new season of the skein.

Fox was actually fired Wednesday. As with Eads, insiders said her reps had been asking for more coin, and the Eye acted after Fox failed to reply to a letter by 5 p.m. Wednesday asking her if she had planned to continue to work. However, sources close to Fox said she had returned the letter and was surprised and mystified when she was fired.

Both actors were in the fifth year of seven-year pacts.

A search has already begun for new thesps to join the show, with producers likely to create characters to replace those played by Fox and Eads.

Insiders say Eads, Fox and other regulars were pulling down around $100,000 per episode. Marg Helgenberger and star-exec producer William Petersen pocket roughly $200,000 and $500,000, respectively, insiders said.

According to sources, Eads, Fox and regulars Paul Guilfoyle and Gary Dourdan were all offered minor raises in exchange for more airtime in a take-it-or-leave-it scenario.

Petersen and Helgenberger may also be itching for raises, insiders said. Both thesps, however, have not threatened to ditch work.

Nonetheless, both were absent from the “CSI” set Thursday, but for health reasons industry insiders said were legit.

It’s not unusual for producers and nets to fire thesps on procedural dramas as part of salary disputes. Dick Wolf, for example, dumped the stars of “New York Undercover” after they went public with their salary beefs.

CBS also played hardball with the supporting cast of “Becker,” refusing to meet their salary demands. Thesps ultimately relented.

“CSI,” which comes from CBS Prods., Alliance Atlantis and Jerry Bruckheimer Television, has been the cornerstone of CBS for the past four seasons, introducing two spinoffs and reaping millions of dollars in ad revenue for the Eye.

CBS execs seem unwilling to go through another “Everybody Loves Raymond” situation. Last summer’s lengthy salary negotiations between the Eye and cast members of the hit laffer were widely reported and resulted in modest pay hikes — but in that instance there was strength in numbers with stars Patricia Heaton, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle and Brad Garrett aligned.

What’s more, “Raymond” thesps were part of the show’s core ensemble, all of whom had been recognized with Emmy noms.

Viacom co-chief Leslie Moonves and CBS Entertainment prexy Nancy Tellem have long made clear that they expect actors to honor their contracts, arguing thesps should renegotiate without threatening to call in sick or otherwise skirt around the edges of their contracts.

CBS declined comment.

(Denise Martin contributed to this report.)

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