By Todd Peterson
Updated February 19, 2004 10:54 AM

To hear William Petersen tell it, you’d think he would feel better off dead.

Petersen, who plays Las Vegas forensics investigator Gil Grissom on the CBS Thursday-night megahit “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” is apparently fed up with the series, according to an interview in the March issue of Playboy.

The outspoken star, who turns 51 on Saturday, tells the men’s magazine that the crew was just wrapping up its 81st episode. “That’s a lot. … I’ll do ‘CSI’ until I legally don’t have to do it anymore,” he tells the magazine, according to a report in the New York Post.

Petersen added that his contract required him to continue the show for just one more season. “That’s as long as I can foresee doing this show,” he said.

But a spokeswoman for Petersen now tells the Post that his contract runs through 2007 and that he has no intentions of leaving the show anytime soon. “He’s gonna stay with the show as long as he’s signed up for — at minimum,” she says.

Following the successful debut of “CSI: Miami” in 2002, the network is now planning “CSI: New York” this fall. Petersen has made no secret about his feelings for the show’s spinoffs, which he says water down the original series. “They can do the show five nights a week with five different casts,” he says.

“Taking a blueprint of something that was originally conceived and trying to synthesize it is the difference between organic chicken and beef jerky,” Petersen says, adding that he would like to see CBS chief Les Moonves and show producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Peter Sussman turn up as corpses on his show, the Post reports.

Petersen’s spokeswoman attributed the comments to the actor’s “biting sense of humor,” which she says don’t always come off so well in print.