George Eads appeared at the Television Critics Association's summer conclave in Los Angeles on Wednesday to promote TNT's July 30 movie ''Evel Knievel,'' in which he stars as the famed daredevil, but Eads' biggest hurdle these days is getting his job back as detective Nick Stokes on ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.'' CBS fired him and costar Jorja Fox last week, claiming that they had missed work in order to hold out for pay raises. But Eads said Wednesday that a ''big misunderstanding'' was behind his firing, and that he hadn't staged a walkout but had merely overslept. Fox, too, has chalked up her firing to a misunderstanding and is reportedly negotiating with the network to get her job back.
Eads and Fox each had three years to go on their contracts, and each was reportedly earning $100,000 per episode (or about $2.2 million per year). Eads said that last Thursday, on the first day of filming the show's fall season, ''I woke up white as a sheet three and a half hours after I was supposed to be on the set and called to say I was on the way to work, and they said, 'Don't bother.''' The firings of Eads and Fox suggested that the networks would no longer tolerate cast walkouts as a negotiating tactic (one which had worked on such shows as CBS' ''Everybody Loves Raymond'' and NBC's ''The West Wing''), with CBS chief Les Moonves telling the TV critics' gathering on Sunday, ''A contract is a contract.'' On Wednesday, Eads agreed, using those same words, reiterating that his absence last week was not about money. ''I think I'm dealing with a man who's kind of cut from the same piece of leather I am,'' Eads said of Moonves. He added that he'd tried to apologize to the CBS chief ''nine ways to Sunday'' but had been unable to reach him to plead his case. ''It's kind of like meeting with Charlie of 'Charlie's Angels,''' the actor said.
Fox was fired last Wednesday, the day before she was to have resumed her role as sleuth Sara Sidle, because CBS said it did not receive a written pledge from her agreeing not to miss work as a negotiating ploy. According to Variety, Fox was mystified by her firing because she said she did sign the pledge; unfortunately, she mailed it instead of faxing it. Fox is now in talks with CBS to get her job back, sources close to the negotiations tell EW.com. When asked by EW.com on Wednesday about Eads' and Fox's job status, a CBS spokesperson declined to comment.
Meanwhile, supporting player Eric Szmanda, who plays lab-bound investigator Greg Sanders on the show, has quietly talked CBS into a raise, Variety reports. Not only that, but his character will finally get his oft-expressed wish to work out in the field. Just in case, Szmanda might consider keeping on hand a loud alarm clock and a fax machine.