''CSI'''s Petersen and Helgenberger get salaries doubled. While they've been complaining about spinoff ''CSI: Miami,'' they've still gotten raises, as has the rest of the cast

By Gary Susman
Updated October 04, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
CSI: Robert Voets

”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” stars William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger have been cleaning up, and not just murder scenes. The two leads on TV’s most popular drama saw their salaries doubled this summer, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Petersen, who the Reporter says had been earning $100,000 per episode, now earns $225,000 to $250,000, including a producer’s fee and an advance against syndication profits. The Reporter says Helgenberger’s salary has been doubled to $150,000 and does not include Petersen’s extra fees.

The two stars haven’t exactly been showing their gratitude, however. Neither is pleased that CBS and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have already created a spinoff of the two-year-old show, ”CSI: Miami.” Apparently, they’re worried that the new show will dilute the brand before it’s had a chance to establish itself. On the red carpet at last month’s Emmys, Helgenberger told NBC’s Matt Lauer, ”As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one CSI, and that’s the one nominated tonight.”

”They should have waited five years for a ‘CSI’ spin-off, or at least four. They won’t even wait for that… time to gestate, like a ‘Law & Order,”’ Petersen told the Chicago Sun-Times last month. ”If our show starts to suffer, I’ll go berserk.” He dismissed the show as ”NYPDCSI,” referring to the casting of ”NYPD Blue” alumni David Caruso and Kim Delaney in the lead roles. He even railed at Bruckheimer for producing CBS’ new drama ”Without a Trace,” which also revolves around scientific crime-solving techniques. ”I can hardly even talk to those guys,” he said of the franchise-minded production company. ”I mean, what are we, McDonald’s?”

Salaries of $150,000 to $250,000 an episode are good for actors in a series that’s just two years old, if not for the top-rated drama on TV. ”ER”’s Noah Wyle earns a reported $400,000 per episode, but his show has been established a lot longer. By comparison, the six stars of TV’s top sitcom, ”Friends,” each earn $1 million per episode. Kelsey Grammer, now in his 10th season on ”Frasier,” earns upward of $1.6 million per episode, including an advance against syndication profits, like Petersen’s.

The ”CSI” supporting actors — including Gary Dourdan, Jorja Fox, and George Eads — also earned raises, according to the Reporter. Plus, CBS gave each of the principal cast members a $20,000 big-screen, high-definition plasma TV. Like they don’t deal with plasma enough at work.