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CBS's Patinkin Village

Mandy Patinkin's departure from
Mandy Patinkin's departure from "Criminal Minds" left CBS scrambling to replace him. In the 1990s, Patinkin also bailed from CBS's "Chicago Hope." (By Cliff Lipson -- Cbs)

"I don't want to be a pain, but I really hope and I believe in the very near future Mandy himself is going to address a lot of those questions. I really believe that," Tassler replied.

"There's nothing you can give us as a subtopic without violating confidences -- is he okay physically?" another critic asked.

"You know, I just don't think it's the forum to discuss it," Tassler said. "This is not the answer you want from me -- I know that -- but I'm just telling you that that's the answer I'm going to give you."

So many questions, always the same answer. How would Silverman have handled this? we wondered, our mind starting to wander. Why wasn't Patinkin cast on "Friday Night Lights"? Life is so unfair sometimes.

"Nina, last Mandy question . . . A 'yes' or 'no' can suffice . . . Were these personal issues?" another critic asked. "Had you any inkling of them? And were they . . . un-serious enough for you to try to talk him out of them? . . . Did you anticipate any of this?"

"When he approached us and said 'I want to be released' and we talked about it internally, we realized that this was the moment in time where we had to address it, and we did, and we're able to accommodate it," Tassler said.

It was an exhausting exchange. And yet, when it was over, the critics, strangely, wanted more. So when Hector Elizondo came onstage with the rest of the cast from CBS's new drama series "Cane" -- in which he plays the patriarch of a very wealthy Latino family in Florida -- one of them asked what his thoughts were years ago when "the rug was pulled out from under you and everyone else at 'Chicago Hope' when Mandy departed."

"I'll take the Fifth," Elizondo responded, doing his best to sound like Marlon Brando in "The Godfather."

"I'm not my brother's keeper. I wish him well."

* * *

Not since "Amish in the City," the series in which young Amish questioning their lifestyle were lured to Los Angeles, have TV critics lavished so much hate on a reality series during a press tour Q&A session as they lavished on CBS's new "Kid Nation."

For the show, which is on the network's fall schedule, Tom Forman, executive producer of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," took 40 kids ages 8 to 15 out of school for 40 days, put them up in a ghost-town-turned-movie-set in New Mexico and let them try to forge their own "nation" without adult supervision.

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