William Petersen is, quite literally, returning to the scene of the crime.

Following lengthy negotiations with CBS, the CSI star has finally signed on to a ninth season of the procedural, albeit for a reduced number of episodes.

While it was a smart move for the network—though Petersen has taken midseason hiatuses in the past and the show is more about the crimes than the crime investigators, he has always been the actor most identified with the show—it was arguably an even better move for the star himself.

Per the trades, Petersen will stay on board CSI through the 2008-09 season, with his salary averaging out to roughly $600,000 per episode, cementing his status as one of the small screen's highest-paid actors.

While the exact number of episodes Petersen will appear in next season has yet to be specified, it will amount to less than the full season order, mirroring his 2006-07 season, when he took a four-episode break—during which he was temporarily replaced by Liev Schreiber—while he starred in the play A Dublin Carol in Providence, R.I.

Petersen has already signed on to appear in the play in his hometown of Chicago from Nov. 13 to Dec. 21, effectively counting him out of a good portion of the midseason.

The contract is good for only one season, through May of next year. If the show continues and Petersen, who also serves as an executive producer on the series, continues on it, he'll need to renegotiate the terms of his deal next year.

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