The cast and crew of Criminal Minds got a bit of a surprise earlier this week when they gathered for a script read of the show's upcoming season. As everyone prepped their parts, they noticed one thing was missing--the show's star.
Mandy Patinkin, who plays special agent Jason Gideon on the CBS drama, did not show up for the mandatory read-through, according to E! Online. Citing a pair of anonymous sources, the Web site says that Patinkin may no longer be with the show.
CBS has not issued a public statement on the matter, and The Hollywood Reporter speculates that a salary dispute may be at the heart of the standoff. (Note: CBS has in fact issued a statement. See below for update.)
Patinkin is a veteran of stage and screen, and has won an Emmy Award as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on Chicago Hope and Tony Awards for his roles in Evita and Sunday in the Park with George. He is probably best known as the suave swordsman Inigo Montoya in the film The Princess Bride.
[UPDATE--July 16] ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television sent out a statement today confirming Patinkin's departure from Criminal Minds, citing "creative differences."
The statement reads: "Last week Mandy Patinkin asked to be released from his role on Criminal Minds. We have honored this request, which was not in any way connected to contract renegotiations or salary issues. His [character's] departure from the series will be explained to audiences in an episode to be filmed in the near future and broadcast early next season. We thank Mandy for helping to make Criminal Minds a strong and successful series, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors. A new character will be added to the series for next season."
A statement on behalf of Mandy Patinkin was also included: "Due to creative differences, Mandy has asked not to return to Criminal Minds this season. Mandy would like to thank the studios and network for releasing him from the series and wishes the cast and crew continued success in all of their endeavors, and he looks forward to continuing to work with the Disney and CBS companies in other capacities in the future."
Details on the show's new cast member have not yet been announced.
Criminal Minds enters its third season later this year. The show follows a crack team of FBI agents who deal with "the country's most twisted criminal minds," solving crimes and preventing new ones. For more information on Criminal Minds, read TV.com's previous coverage.