Mandy Patinkin leaves Criminal Minds

Actor Mandy Patinkin has abruptly left the CBS series Criminal Minds over creative differences but a CBS executive says it was over personal matters.

Actor Mandy Patinkin has abruptly left the CBS drama Criminal Minds citing creative differences but executives at CBS contend he did it for personal reasons.

The 54-year-old actor is the lead in the popular series about a group of FBI criminal profilers who tryto anticipate a criminal's next move before it happens.

CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said Wednesday the actor had left the show earlier this week. Tassler was speaking at a meeting of the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles.

TasslercalledPatinkin's departurean opportunity to bring a "different character into the mix"of the two-year-old series, which also stars Thomas Gibson, Paget Brewster and Shemar Moore.

Tassler said Patinkin's departure was not about creative differences.

"It's a personal issue.… The show is accommodating his needs."

Asked whether this meant the actor was in bad health or had a family emergency, the executive refusedto provide details but said she hoped "at some point, in the very near future, Mandy himself is going to address a lot of these questions."

Patinkin's character, agent Jason Gideon, will return for at least one episode in the new season.

Criminal Minds producer Ed Bernero has expressed bewilderment about Patinkin's departure.

"He gave us no advance notice that anything was wrong, no opportunity to make the loss of the character work," wrote Bernero on his internet blog this week.

Patinkin, a Tony Award-winning stage actor, won an Emmy in 1995 for his portrayal of Dr. Jeffrey Geiger in the medical series Chicago Hope, which he left in its second season purportedly to spend more time with his family.

His film credits include Yentl, Dick Tracy and The Princess Bride.

Patinkin had also been scheduled to take part in the critics meeting but was absent.

With files from the Associated Press