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The search for actor Mandy Patinkin, whose recent. mysterious failure to appear at the table read of whatever second-tier CBS procedural he stars on engaged all of Hollywood in a desperate manhunt for the missing thespian late last week, is over. The good news: Patinkin seems to be OK, and both his network and studio have thus refrained from assassinating his character in the press over the no-show. The bad news: "creative differences"—the "it's not you, it's me" of insincere Hollywood excuses—have driven him off the series. Says Broadcasting & Cable:

After Patinkin's no-show at the first summer read-through, speculation swirled that it was a ploy to squeeze more money out of his contract. But CBS Paramount and ABC Studios stressed that the actor's departure "was not in any way connected to contract renegotiations or salary issues."

The Patinkin camp chalked up the actor's departure to "creative differences."

A new character will be added to take Patinkin's place while his character's departure will be explained in one of the third season's early episodes.

While producers will probably find, at the very least, a passable replacement to fill Patinkin's hastily vacated labcoat and take up his semen-detecting blacklight (again, we're tragically ignorant of the specifics of this particular show), things on the set will never be the same: No matter how accomplished a performer is added, castmate Shemar Moore (pictured with Patinkin in happier times) will be forced to forfeit their Criminal Minds chickenfighting championship to hated rivals Thomas Gibson and Paget Brewster, undoing two seasons' worth of dominance in their downtime bloodsport.