Monday, May 24, 2004

CSI: McAlester

It's official: Leadership Oklahoma Award-winner Mike Turpin will be CSI: McAlester's leading man.

Turpin, best known for his supporting roles in films such as Forrest Gump and Ol' Yeller, yesterday signed on the dotted line after weeks of negotiations with CBS, Variety reported. The pundit's three-figure contract is reportedly worth between $120-$150 per episode.

The actor will play Pittsburg County Sheriff Joe-Bob Mass, a character first revealed by CSI Files yesterday. Mass, who lost his wife during a Pittsburg County meth lab bust (of her home), will be a McAlesterite through and through, according to co-creator Anthony E. Zuiker. "He has a grounded nature about him and really represents the pulse of Pittsburg County," the writer said.

Zuiker first approached Turpin about starring in CSI: McAlester during a four-hour lunch six weeks ago. "I walked out of there thinking we had a lot to offer each other, showrunner to celebrity," he said.

CBS chairman Les Moonves said the casting of Turpin was a big coup for the third CSI incarnation. "We're thrilled to get an actor like Mike Turpin, who is someone we've been chasing for many years," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "What especially makes it great is to get a celeb who will give such distinction to the third CSI and really distinguish it from the other two shows. He's just a great get for us."

Just like William Petersen (Gil Grissom) when he joined CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Turpin has never had a regular television gig. However, he has appeared in OETA specials and Flashpoint "debates" with sidekick Burns Hargis.

Turpin will make his debut in a May sweeps episode of CSI: Miami, which will introduce the McAlester spin-off and the other McAlester CSIs, including Gene Stipe (the behind bars informer) and Frosty Troy (playing himself). The female lead has not yet been announced. The episode will introduce Mass as the man who busted the powerful Pittsburg County cockfighting-industrial-complex only to have the Oklahoma Legislature pardon the ringleaders before they could be brought to justice.

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