'Criminal Minds' Executive Producer Clears the Air
'Criminal Minds' Executive Producer Clears the Air
Mandy Patinkin's sudden exit from Criminal Minds left the cast and crew on the edge as they tried to find a way to deal with the loss.  The news spread like wildfire on the internet.  Various sites pointed the finger at the production crew, with stories claiming that Patinkin and the producers had gotten into nasty contract negotiations that resulted in the actor leaving the series.

"I really started looking at this stuff and we were being blamed," executive producer Ed Bernero said of the accusatory web articles.  "This guy never asked for anything he didn't get.  We have a culture where we're so ... forgiving of celebrities -- they were looking for a reason to make it everybody else's fault.”

During the press tour last month, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said that Mandy Patinkin's departure was due to “creative differences.”  At the time, however, the internet had already created much negative buzz for the series, leaving Bernero no other choice but to clarify the situation himself.

"Let me make this clear: This is not about a contract renegotiation, this is not about money, this is not about something Mr. Patinkin asked for and wasn't provided -- in fact, everyone involved in the show has for two years bent over backward to give him anything he wanted," Bernero wrote on one of the show's unofficial fan blogs.

"Mr. Patinkin told the show, the studios and the network he was returning right up to the day before we started shooting the first episode and then simply did not show up. ... He was not, as some media reports have indicated, written 'lightly' in our first episode.  In fact it was quite the opposite.  Because of the construct of the first episode story, he was actually in the center of that episode.  He left us completely in the proverbial lurch."

In a more recent interview with Washington Post's TV Column, Bernero said that he came out with the statement not to paint Mandy Patinkin in a bad light, but to simply save Criminal Minds.

"It was not personal about Mandy, it was about the show not being blamed for [his departure].  I thought it was really detrimental for the show losing Mandy, which was big in itself, and then have people blame the show," Bernero explained.  "It was trying to say, 'Guys, we didn't do this.' "

Now that the dust has finally settled, the show is ready to move on with its latest cast member, Joe Mantegna.  However, Patinkin is expected to appear in two episodes of the show's upcoming season, as a way of providing closure for his character, Gideon.  Contrary to what has been reported, Bernero told TV Column that Patinkin worked 14 hours on the set, and that he worked alone simply because the other cast members were not needed in the scenes.

"It's not that they didn't want to work with him,” Bernero explained.

The third season premiere of Criminal Minds is a modified version of an unaired episode from the previous season. In the episode, the team leads an investigation of a serial killer targeting women at a college.  CBS decided to yank the episode because its air date corresponded with the Virginia Tech killings.

Now, scenes from that episode will be part of a flashback, integrated with scenes showing Gideon writing a “cryptic note” to someone.  Viewers will find out who the note is for in the second episode, as well as how things will end for Gideon.

-Lisa Claustro, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: The Washington Post
(Image Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune)