For lack of a working alarm clock, former "CSI" cast member George Eads is out of a job. Apparently a salary of more than $2 million a year just doesn't go as far as it used to.

"I think what has happened over 'CSI' is an incredible misunderstanding," Eads told TV critics here on Wednesday. He was attending Summer TV Press Tour 2004 to plug his starring role in TNT's new flick "Evel Knievel."

Last week, CBS chief Leslie Moonves sacked Eads and Jorja Fox when they did not show up for the first day of shooting on the hit drama series's fifth season.

Moonves said at the tour on Sunday that production on the crime drama would be shut down this week and that CBS was looking at recasting both roles. When pressed, Eads said the "CSI" kerfuffle "was not about the money." Pressed further, he insisted that what happened was "I woke up white as a sheet 31/2 hours after I was supposed to be on the set."

But wait, it gets sadder. When he called in to say he'd be late, Eads said, they told him not to bother coming in at all.

He did not attempt to explain the miraculous coincidence that caused Jorja Fox's alarm clock to fail on the very same day, nor did he speculate what might have caused CBS to get the impression that both actors wanted to be shown the money.

"I think it should be cleared up by the end of the week," Eads said reassuringly. "If not, a formal statement will be made, but I think it should all work itself out."

"I look forward to being back," he said, optimistically.

Eads said he was surprised by CBS's strong reaction to his alarm clock malfunction.

"It's like I'm the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and I overslept the first day of practice. . . . I'd expect the coach to have me run hills and run wind sprints until the sun goes down -- not, you know, completely fire me."

Of course, you and I know that the problem is he's not the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He's not even the running back. He's more like a backup tight end. Which is why Moonves felt free to sack him when he held out for a better alarm clock.

"I've apologized nine ways to Sunday. . . . It's a big misunderstanding," Eads said, continuing the theme.

The "CSI" third-string thespian said he had been trying to speak to Moonves directly, but that's like trying to get in to see Charlie of "Charlie's Angels." Of course, you and I know Charlie is a fictitious character.

CBS had no immediate comment.

Wake up, George: Ousted "CSI" cast member George Eads will play Evel Knievel in a TNT movie, but he still hopes to get his job back on CBS.