"CSI" fans unhappy about William Petersen exit: poll

LOS ANGELES Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:29am EST

William Petersen as night shift supervisor Gil Grissom in ''CSI''. REUTERS/CBS/Handout

William Petersen as night shift supervisor Gil Grissom in ''CSI''.

Credit: Reuters/CBS/Handout

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Crime drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" tops the must-see fall television shows for Americans, but more than a third of viewers said they would no longer watch after the departure of star William Petersen, according to an online poll released on Friday.

The heavily-hyped remakes "90210" and "Knight Rider" got the biggest thumbs down as the most disappointing new shows on U.S. TV, while the five-year jump ahead in the lives of the "Desperate Housewives" was a hit with only 12 percent of viewers in the season that began in September.

According to the AOL television poll, ( television.aol.com ) the year-long delayed new season of the Kiefer Sutherland thriller "24", is the most anticipated show returning early next year, getting 28 percent of votes.

"24" just beat the 8th installment of "American Idol" in January, which has been America's most watched TV show of the past four years.

"CSI" now in its eighth year, is currently the top-rated drama on U.S. TV with a weekly average 21 million viewers.

But 37 percent said they would not watch once Petersen, who plays night shift supervisor Gil Grissom, leaves midway through the season. Another 41 percent said it depended how good Petersen's replacement Laurence Fishburne proved.

Audiences for network dramas and comedies have fallen across the board this fall, partly because of interest in the U.S. presidential elections and also due to the 14-week strike by Hollywood screenwriters which cut short popular shows last spring and reduced the amount of new fall offerings.

Some 49 percent of those taking part in the AOL poll said they discovered new shows on U.S. cable TV thanks to the strike, while 23 percent said they either took up yoga, rented more DVDs, or played computer games like Guitar Hero.

A further 28 percent said they were not aware of the writers' strike.

The AOL poll received more than 600,000 votes and ran from Oct 29-Nov 13.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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