Next Wednesday at 9pm PST is Must-See TV and not only because the #1 show on CBS ‘Criminal Minds’ airs in that coveted time slot…Entertainment legend Ed Asner will guest star on the hit series the evening of April 15th; the award-winning actor will portray “Aaron Hotchner”’s Father-In-Law. (Series regular Thomas Gibson plays “Hotch”)
Asner’s role on the massively popular series came about after Toluca Lake resident Joe Mantegna (who has played lead character “David Rossi” on the show since 2007) came across an interview Asner gave for The Tolucan Times. “I was thrilled to find out Ed was a fan of our show,” he says regarding Asner’s “One on One” celebrity interview in the July 2nd, 2014 issue of the paper. In the piece “What do you do in your spare time?” was asked; Asner replied “I watch ‘Criminal Minds’, everybody is great on that show!” After it went to print, Mantegna read it and his reaction was, “I immediately let our producers know so we could find a great role for him to play!”
It may have taken months to finally land Asner for the weekly series, but if Mantegna had his way, “I would have used him in the episode I directed but he was unavailable at that time.” That was back in November; Asner was performing his extremely successful one-man play FDR at The Laguna Playhouse at that time. The most recent Mantegna-directed ‘Criminal Minds’ episode aired in January and was dedicated to his late friend of 44 years, actor Meshach Taylor (of ‘Designing Women’ fame), who recently passed away. Taylor appeared in two previous episodes, the third in his storyline aired posthumous. “[Taylor’s] last professional job was the episode I directed him in last season,” Mantegna sadly reveals.
Fast forward to March 2015 and the show found the perfect part for Asner to sink his teeth into. “It’s a great role as Ed’s character still has strong feelings about his daughter’s death,” Mantegna divulges, “so I’m thrilled he got to do the one he did as it’s a terrific role!” Asner’s humorous take on his part: “My regret at not working with Joe and the other brilliants of ‘Criminal Minds’ was offset by my getting to dump all over “Hotch”!”
Asner’s incredible career has garnered him seven Emmy Awards, more than any other male actor, ever. He is also the only thespian in history to win two Emmys for the same role on different television shows: Playing “Lou Grant” on the comedy ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and the title character on the dramatic series ‘Lou Grant’.
“He is someone who I consider an American acting treasure,” remarks Mantegna about his new friend Asner. Mantegna is set to direct two more episodes of ‘Criminal Minds’ next season and for all you locals: he also owns (and frequents) Taste Chicago along with his lovely wife, Arlene, located on Hollywood Way in Toluca Lake. The restaurant boasts great Italian food and a lot of Mantegna & friends memorabilia decorating the walls!