Thursday, March 12, 2009


Criminal Minds Travel Diary: Just a few more posts about the trip and then we'll talk about the "Crim-a-con".

To tell the story of our last night in LA, I feel that I need to go back two years to when I was invited by CBS to visit the Criminal Minds set. I was a huge Mandy Patinkin fan. Needless to say, I was very excited, nervous and a bit all over the place with what I wanted to see and do. Surely the highlight of my trip would be getting to meet and talk to Mandy. I was brought down to the set where they were shooting an episode entitled Ashes and Dust (or Ashes and Enya provided the writer isn’t present to hear you). After numerous delays and what I was told were scheduling conflicts on Mandy's part, I soon found myself escorted onto the set. I began to get a strange feeling that there was something more than scheduling problems behind Mandy's repeated inaccessibly. Upon arriving on the set I was introduced by my CBS escort to the episode's writer who immediately welcomed me to the show and seeing that I was without a place to stand or sit where I could see the action... offered me his chair with a the writers view of the monitors. The writer it turned out had written the one episode (L.D.S.K.) that more than any singular episode had hooked me (and many of you, from your own accounts) on a fledgling Criminal Minds. As it turned out, I was approached later that day and informed that Mandy had left for the day. He was gone. I was leaving the next day. I was not going to meet the man who I was invited to travel across the country to meet. As it turned out, I am grateful that things didn't work out with Mandy that day because I ended up spending most of the day with Andrew. Though I didn't express my disappointment to Andrew at the time, he clearly could see how I felt. Andrew (and a new actress on the show named Paget Brewster, who I have come to deeply respect) went out of his way that day to welcome me into the Criminal Minds world, to explain the behind the scenes goings on, and give me a very honest explanation of the very turbulent creative process that Ed, and Andrew and all the original writers went through to assure that this freshman show would be around for awhile. We're just getting ready to complete our senior year... and I can only hope that Criminal Minds takes a long time to complete graduate school.

It was a great trip, but not in the way I expected it to be. While I very much enjoyed meeting the actors and crew, the highlight of my trip was getting to spend time with the writers, and especially the one who went on to pen many more of our favorite episodes, Andrew Wilder. But unlike many of you who got to know Andrew's name from all of his writing, he became my favorite also because he was a genuinely decent human being who went out of his way to make a stranger as comfortable as possible in the face of what was for me at that time, a disappointment.

Over the past twenty-four months, I have come to learn a lot about Andrew. What started out as a respectful relationship soon became a friendship. Among many things, I’ve come to know him as a kind-hearted individual with a deep dedication to his work and the fans. And in those 24 months not only has he written many of our favorite episodes... (don't eat the chili) but he has gone out of his way to help me make the blog a success by doing numerous chats after his episodes, standing in for other writers when at the last minute they couldn't make it (or those who made it at the last minute but needed someone to type for them - Simon, when his electricity was out at chat time), he brought us Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, and next week the greatest surprise of all, Andrew convinced Thomas Gibson to join us for the very first time following Andrew's next episode, "Omnivore". Those of you who know how busy Thomas is and how little time he has had to do CM PR are aware what a feat this is.

Which brings me two years later to the last night of our visit to LA to tell you all the story of Andrew and the Unsub!

When I invited the ladies to Los Angeles to work on the "Crim-a-con", I wanted to ensure that they had a great and memorable trip. Aside from the set visit, I worked with several people in LA to set up a mystery. It involved leaving clues around our hotel that would eventually lead them to our Unsub. Ed, being heavily involved with Washington Fields, was unable to play the part, but Andrew volunteered to do it.

The game was supposed to reach its conclusion on Saturday with Andrew sitting in the darkness by the pool. The hotel had agreed to assist us with this. Afterwards, we would be going out to dinner with Andrew. I knew the ladies would love it.

Unfortunately, come that morning, Andrew phoned me to let me know that he was feeling very sick. He told me he wasn’t sure he’d be up for a full dinner, but that’d he absolutely stop by to do the game and go out for appetizers with us. I tried to talk him out of it, but he’d hear none of that. I guessed that since he was still joining us that he wasn't all that sick. Later that day, when I went down to meet him in the lobby; I was greeted by a man who more resembled Casper the Friendly Ghost than Andrew Wilder. He looked terrible... pale, tired, and clearly sick.

Immediately, I tried again to get him to go home and he finally agreed, on one condition - he insisted on talking to the ladies first. I told him I would explain and apologize for him. To no avail. Andrew said that the fans had looked forward to this and come so far and he would not let them leave without thanking them all for supporting the show. He especially wanted to thank and say goodbye to the ones who had come in from other countries. Bri and Walburga came down and were both shocked by his appearance. He talked to them for a bit, and despite how he was feeling he allowed us to take pictures with him as he repeatedly apologized for not being able to go out to dinner. Walburga, whose favorite writer in Andrew as well, was so touched by his kindness that after he finally departed - she began to tear up that this wonderfully talented writer would put them first while he was so clearly sick. To call it a memorable experience for all of them (and me) was an understatement. He had done it again. But this time, I wasn’t the only one who got to see the other side of this disturbed, gun-loving, fire starting, serially-homicidal, satan worshipping Giants fan.

I became a fan of Andrew’s because of his deep, thoughtful and intensely dramatic writing. I became his friend because of his kindness, sense of humor and dedication to the show. He’s the favorite of much of the fan base and it’s easy to see and understand why. Two weeks ago, the ladies found this out for themselves.