"Criminal Minds" Rolling Along Sans Mandy, Says AJ Cook
Aug 20, 2007
"Criminal Minds" regular AJ Cook says in the wake of Mandy Patinkin's unexpected departure and ensuing brouhaha, the cast and crew has "rolled with the punches. "We're not going to lie and say we weren't surprised and disappointed, but we're going to move forward and hope that it all goes fine," says the gorgeous blond actress, who plays FBI Special Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau on the CBS drama. "We wish the best to Mandy."
Joe Mantegna has been announced as the replacement for Patinkin's character, Supervisory Special Agent Jason Gideon, and Cook says, "The writers are locked in a room somewhere trying to find out who this new character is and how to bring him on. It'll be interesting to see how that changes the dynamic on the set and on screen."
The writers are also dealing with how to explain Gideon's absence. Cook says she'd be "personally shocked" if they kill off the character. "Last season his girlfriend was killed and he was on the run trying to find the killer, so luckily they had that, to set up his departure." As for the ultimate fate of Patinkin's character, she says, "They've left us all in the dark here. All I know is we're looking for him … We're trying to figure out where he is and hunt the man down." She adds with a laugh, "What's so funny is, it's kind of art imitating life. In our read-through, we had lines in there that seemed to be pulled out of our lives -- 'Has anyone seen Gideon -- or Mandy?'"
She says Patinkin did eventually contact his former cast mates after leaving sans notice. "We have been kind of playing phone tag, but he has gone out of his way to make sure he reached all of us." She adds, "I think that was the biggest part for us … We just didn't know what was going on, and we were all worried. Once we got into contact with him and knew he was OK, then it was we just want him to be happy."
THE BIG SCREEN SCENE: Kathryn Morris regrets that she's going to have to pass on the latest feature being planned by filmmaker Rod Lurie, for whom she's worked on movies from "The Contender" to this Friday's (8/24) release "Resurrecting the Champ" with Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Duhamel.
"I've been in all of Rod's films. We have an incredible collaborative spirit together. We talked about another one, but it's not going to work out with my series schedule," explains the actress, who makes a departure from her "Cold Case" homicide detective role in the new movie. She plays the newspaper editor wife of Duhamel's down-on-his-luck sportswriter, whose career could be reignited with the story of Champ (Jackson), a former world-class boxer he finds homeless.
Says the ever-direct Morris, 38, speaking of 35-year-old Duhamel, "I thought I was too old for Josh, but Rod said, 'No, that's part of the story. You were in graduate school, he was an undergrad, you got knocked up. You were a catch for him. He had to become a dad too soon … '" She goes on, "I play the better half. Josh's character knows it, everybody knows it. She's a very powerful, intelligent woman -- a mother, wife and lady who has the grace to let her adorable immature husband follow his own path without browbeating him. She's rooting for him. There's something traditional about it I like."
JUST FRIENDS: Maria Menounos has been linked with Vin Diesel here and there ever since she interviewed him on an "Access Hollywood" interview -- and lots of folks noticed that he had his arm around her at the MTV Awards. However, she tells us of their supposed romance, "That's a long-standing rumor. He's very nice and very handsome, but no."
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Heartthrob Spanish language singer/actor Shalim Ortiz, one of the latest additions to NBC's "Heroes," reports that his and Dania Ramirez' storyline "starts with a punch -- scene one. It starts in sixth gear" with the two playing twin brother and sister on the lam, as she tries to cope with a disturbing new power. "My character's role, more than anything, is to protect his sister no matter what. All he has in his life is his sister.
She is the ballast force for him, and he is for her, and they can't live without each other in a way," says Ortiz, who had little time to get to know his new series sister before they began shooting -- mostly while working with a translator who was helping facilitate their all-in-Spanish scenes. Ortiz says that shooting of their storyline, as the twins journey from Central America to the United States "has been easier since we finished the jungle sequences. Those were crazy days, a lot of night shoots in the jungle. The closer we get to the U.S. in the story, the more normal the hours are."
(With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Feimster)
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