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It’s All in the Attitude on ‘Mentalist’ Set

April 20, 2009 12:00 PM

Who knew? Network television is “basically improvised,” according to Bruno Heller, creator of CBS’ “The Mentalist.” He was comparing the pace of production on the season’s top-rated new show to his previous creation, HBO’s “Rome.”

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GOING 'MENTALIST' Creator Bruno Heller, left, co-executive producer Chris Long and Simon Baker.

Heller was joined by “Mentalist” co-executive producer Chris Long and cast members Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti at the PaleyFest panel Friday night at Arclight Hollywood. The show’s Tim Kang was missing, according to moderator Ben Grossman of Broadcasting & Cable, because he was collecting an award as “the first actor to not crack a smile for the entire first season.”

Yeoman volunteered that he and Kang pass the time on set exchanging Chuck Norris facts. Pressed for an example, he offered, “When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down.”

Silly seems to be the dominant mood on the set. Tunney—Yeoman said, “You mean, ‘Tons of funny’?”—admitted to doing a bit of teasing of her co-star. “Sometimes when a guy wins Sexiest Man on Television, someone’s got to make fun of him!” she declared. The target of her teasing, Baker, muttered, “Take a ticket, join the queue!”

In answer to a question about whether the actors had ever been hypnotized, Baker, wearing Clark Kent glasses, said they’d had a hypnotist at the show’s Christmas celebration. “He really killed the party,” he went on. “We invited him back for the wrap party, and we’re selling stones at the door.”

Grossman steered the discussion to a question every fan of the show surely has wondered about: “When is somebody finally gonna get laid on this show?” Yeoman immediately replied, “Where do you think Tim is now?”

Heller answered, “That’s deliberate. I don’t think people get laid as much in real life as they do on television. We’ll go there, but slowly, carefully and respectfully, like in a real workplace.”

Grossman referred to an online poll on whether Rigsby (Yeoman) and Van Pelt (Righetti) should get together, a development that has been hinted at repeatedly over the season. “God bless my mum for setting that up!” Yeoman exclaimed. Turns out 89% of respondents were in favor of such a liaison.

The discussion then turned to a pairing of Baker’s and Tunney’s characters, Tunney said, “I’m going to venture a guess that it’s much lower—the women in the audience all want Jane for themselves!” And she was correct: The figure there was just 57%. Told there’s even a Facebook page with a Brangelina-esque name for such a couple—Jisbon—Baker said, “That’s all kind of wrong.”

—Lisa D. Horowitz

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