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The Ausiello Files: July 31, 2009

EW’s TV scooper on ”CSI,” ”Life,” and ”Torchwood”

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CSI scoop: Sara’s back! Will Grissom be next?
Less than a year after reuniting in the jungle with leading man William Petersen, Jorja Fox is heading back to CSI this fall — alone. But don’t take Fox’s five-episode return to mean that Sara and Grissom’s happily-ever-after was a bust. ”They’re absolutely together,” insists executive producer Naren Shankar, who nonetheless says Sara will drop hints of trouble in paradise. ”We’re talking about a couple of very independent individuals who have decided to share their life together. The first few months of that for any couple are a weird adjustment.”

So, if not a breakup, what does prompt Sara to revisit the Vegas strip? Shankar and fellow executive producer Carol Mendelsohn maintain it was not a mandate from CBS to stem last season’s ratings slide. That said, the pair concede that the back-to-back-to-back departures of Fox, Gary Dourdan, and Petersen, combined with the arrivals of Laurence Fishburne and Lauren Lee Smith, took a toll. ”The family had disintegrated a little bit,” Shankar says. ”We had people off in their own bubbles, and we want to restore that family [feeling]. And Jorja’s helping with that.” Adds Mendelsohn: ”Sara comes in and brings everyone together. And she helps Catherine understand that as the [new] leader, she needs to make the team cohesive and really fire on all cylinders again.”

Might she get an in-person assist from Petersen? ”You never know when Grissom will show up on CSI,” teases Mendelsohn. ”The theme of [season 10] is family. And he certainly is part of the family — a big part of the family.” I’ll take that as a yes.


Life can go on without Barton
Mischa Barton’s ongoing health issues have producers of her new CW drama, The Beautiful Life (which is set to debut on Sept. 16), scrambling to get a contingency plan in place. Although reps for the model-centric soap declined to comment, sources confirm that a new female catwalker is being cast who bears a striking resemblance to Barton’s experienced supermodel, Sonja Stone. The new recurring character, while not an outright recast, could easily fill the show’s senior Barbie void — if it should come to that, says an insider.

At press time, the former O.C. actress remains hospitalized with an unspecified medical problem. Reports that she has been placed under involuntary psychiatric hold have not been confirmed. Her publicist, meanwhile, says she ”continues to improve.”

Torchwood death controversy
Backlash, shmacklash. That’s Torchwood creator Russell T Davies’ reaction to the outcry over the death of Gareth David-Lloyd’s beloved Ianto in the BBC America mini-series Children of Earth.

”It’s a few people online trying to get everyone upset,” scoffs Davies, who says Ianto’s murder was necessary given Children‘s apocalyptic threat. ”It would have been unlikely if everyone survived.”

Davies says he’s ”fairly confident” Torchwood will live on in the form of another miniseries — with or without those angry Ianto fans (many of whom are upset that one of TV’s few gay relationships perished with the character). ”I recommend they go watch Supernatural, because those boys are beautiful,” he says with a laugh. ”And don’t tell me they’re brothers.”

{TV scoop doesn’t take a summer vacation, and neither does Ausiello!}