Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oh Mandy. And You Came, And You Gave, And You've Taken. Now We Send You Away, Oh Mandy!

A Criminal Mind is a terrible thing to waste. Unless you're one of the biggest idiots in the world and your name is Mandy Patinkin. The abrupt departure of super-ego'd actor from "Criminal Minds" is forcing CBS to revise the drama before its fall return and fend off questions about his exit. Patinkin citing creative differences, asked to be released from his role as FBI profiler Jason Gideon, it was announced earlier this week. I was beginning to like him in Criminal Minds because I couldn't stand him in Chicago Hope. But how many times can this guy bail from a hit show and why do the networks keep using him?

Patinkin, a wannabe singer and not much better actor citied creative differences, asked to be released from his role as FBI profiler Jason Gideon. When questioned Wednesday at a meeting of the Television Critics Association, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said it has yet to be determined how "Criminal Minds" will account for the loss of a major character. But she said the situation offers an opportunity to bring "a different character into the mix" in the show's third season. The show's writers are "up to the challenge," she said. Hell yeah. He was a central figure but that cast has shown they could probably make it without him.

"Criminal Minds" is among CBS' top-rated scripted programs, standing up to tough competition including Fox's "American Idol" and growing in viewership from its first-year average of 12.6 million to 14.1 million viewers in its second. Tassler said she was not free to shed light on Patinkin's leaving. At one point she said "creative differences is a euphemism for personal issues," but declined to elaborate. Patinkin won an Emmy for best actor in 1995 for his portrayal of Dr. Jeffrey Geiger in the CBS medical series "Chicago Hope," which he left in the second season to, he said then, spend more time with his family. He later returned to the show. He must have realized that he lost his cash cow!

The Criminal Minds ensemble cast still is reeling from the departure of Patinkin because of personal issues. Shemar Moore, who used to be on The Young & The Restless and who is actually a pretty nice guy has some blunt assessments of Mandy Patinkin's complex personality and recent actions. "If you needed to leave the show to kind of feel better about yourself, that's fine," Moore said. "You want to be closer to your family, that's fine. You want to go sing songs and travel, that's fine. But give us a heads-up. Give us a warning." Patinkin just didn't show up one day and that was it, leaving the writers of Criminal Minds srambling to deal with the departure. But Moore dismissed suggestions Patinkin may have a health problem. "He's not in harm's way, he's fine, he just is not speaking to anybody," Moore said. "There's nothing wrong with Mandy, no. Mandy's issues are his own personal issues.

A.J. Cook, who also is part of the Criminal Minds cast, said she is in a "strange grey area" between being surprised and not being surprised. "The show will go on, as they say, and hopefully our fans will stick by us. "Mandy was a huge part of the show, especially in the first season. But in the second season it started to become more of an ensemble. I don't know if (the writers) were doing that on purpose. I don't know if maybe they had an inkling something was going to happen." Cook was asked if Patinkin should be replaced, or if the remaining cast merely should be given more to do. "The cast's first response was, let it breathe, see how it goes and see if it feels like something's missing."

Well, Mr. Patinkin has finally completed his 15-minutes of fame in my book. He's done this to use before and now it's time to let him take his fragile little sniveling self and go work at a Macaroni Grill or something. Don't they use table singers there?