LOS ANGLES -- Yesterday was NBC's big day on the press tour before the Television Critics' Association, 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 writes for the Los Angeles Times.