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TOUR TALK

Mandy Patinkin's sudden exit boggles `Minds'

July 17, 2007|Maria Elena Fernandez; Lynn Smith

Monday was NBC's big day on the press tour before the Television Critics' Assn., beginning with the introduction of the company's dynamic new co-chairmen, Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff.

But elsewhere in Hollywood, CBS -- the top network in viewers but last in buzz -- announced something that made the Earth almost tremble.

At least that's how it felt at the Beverly Hilton gathering, when television reporters simultaneously received a news release via e-mail that Mandy Patinkin is leaving the top-rated "Criminal Minds" under mysterious circumstances that, according to the statement, have nothing to do with salary or contract negotiations.

Why then would the star of a hit show just up and leave? The news release cited "creative differences." But, according to show-runner Ed Bernero, no one knows. On criminalmindsfanatic.blogspot.com, Bernero wrote that "everyone involved in the show has for two years bent over backward to give him ANYTHING he wanted."

Bernero wrote that the network and studio expected Patinkin to report for duty for the season premiere and he simply never showed. Patinkin played lead FBI profiler Jason Gideon in the crime drama co-produced by ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television.

"He gave us no advance notice that anything was wrong, no opportunity to make the loss of the character work, no indication that we should be looking for someone else, no warning that we might have to rewrite the first seven scripts," Bernero added.

This is the second time the actor has left CBS hanging. In 1995, he quit the network's "Chicago Hope" after one season, then returned in 1999 for its last season.

But CBS should not take it personally. Patinkin was a no-show for a press tour PBS panel on which he was expected to participate last week.

Maria Elena Fernandez

Holly Hunter discovers TV

Like Glenn Close ("Damages") and other movie actors showing up on series television, Holly Hunter ("The Piano," "Broadcast News") admitted Sunday on a TCA panel that she never used to watch television at all until she got a series lead. Hunter stars in "Saving Grace," a TNT drama premiering July 23, as a cynical detective touched by a country angel named Earl.

"I know I sound like a ... snob," she said. When she started watching, "It was a revelation to me. It was like, 'Wow. 'The Shield.' It was so provocative and so personal. Television suddenly felt like a bunch of private lives instead of homogenized lives. That's where I left TV."

Television, of course, has offered older women careers much longer than they would have had in the youth-obsessed movies.

"It probably is that cable has changed the landscape," she said. "It happens to be made for less money and risks can be greater; it adds up to people wanting to take chances....

"A door has been opened. In the '70s, antiheroes were all over the place in cinema. Now it's happening on [TV] with women."

-- Lynn Smith

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