Lauren Lee Smith is leaving Las Vegas

No soup for you, CSI. The hit crime drama is parting ways with the Lauren Lee Smith, the artist formerly known as the Soup Chef. Lauren joined the show last season as new CSI Riley Adams. But now, just as original cast member Jorja Fox is set to return for five episodes, Lauren is shown to door. Bummer.

The new season will start with Riley already gone, so Lauren won’t have a chance to say goodbye on screen. Executive producer Naren Shankar confirmed the new to earlier this week saying:

It was an issue of how we were feeling the ensemble was working. When we brought in the character of Riley, it got lost in the shuffle a little bit because we had lost Warrick, we had lost Sara, and then in the middle of last season Grissom finally left. I think, as a result, the character never quite found its footing in terms of the rest of the gang.

Now, this may just be residual warm feelings towards her thanks to her adorability as Lara Perkins on The L Word, but I like Lauren on CSI. Granted, she wasn’t given a lot to work with in Riley. Her character has a few stand-out moment, but otherwise wasn’t given much to do.

The producers told The Ausiello Files at that this season’s theme will be family. Shankar said, “We wanted to restore that balance of the family. And that initial creative impulse led to the notion of Jorja coming back and helping to assist with that.” No word on whether William Peterson’s Grissom, who left at the end of last season to be with Jorja’s Sara Sidle, will return. But producers were adamant that they have not broke up. So, I guess put those Sara/Catherine ’shipper dreams on hold now.

What do you think? Will you miss Lauren? Did you like Riley? And do you think Jorja coming back can bring the CSI family back together?