joe mantegna apr 2011 gi 'Criminal Minds' Joe Mantegna on show's changes: 'It's like life'Joe Mantegna is looking ahead to the next season of “Criminal Minds” as the current one winds down.

The typically grim CBS mystery series wraps up its sixth year Wednesday, May 18, with a touch of what’s to come: Former cast regular A.J. Cook returns as Behavioral Analysis Unit member Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau, and she’ll be back full-time come fall. Paget Brewster‘s possible return as Agent Emily Prentiss largely depends on whether NBC picks up the actress’ sitcom “My Life as an Experiment,” which will be known next week.

Another “Criminal” change is in store with executive producers Edward Allen Bernero and Simon Mirren departing, and Erica Messer carrying on that job. Count on Mantegna continuing as FBI veteran David Rossi, though.

“It”s like life,” he reasons to Zap2it. “It goes in cycles. Things happen, things change, and some things return to the way they were. We even deal with it in the show. As opposed to one of those dramatic ‘Who died in the explosion?’ cliffhangers, the season’s last episode is more reflective than that.

“It’s almost a salute to those who have watched us for a long time, in the sense that we deal with some personal kinds of things. We’ll still leave a few mysteries up in the air, but there will be some positive, uplifting things as well. After six seasons, I believe you owe the fans something.”

Mantegna, who joined “Criminal Minds” in its third year after Mandy Patinkin‘s exit, likens the series’ future to other situations of course correction: “Sometimes, people fix things that aren’t broken. Our show has always been somewhat the bastard child because we’re co-produced by two networks (through ABC Studios and CBS Television Studios). Somebody gets it in their head, ‘Let’s tinker with this,’ then finds out it’s not such a good idea. It happens.

“The bottom line is that we’re on point,” Mantegna adds. “We’re trying to do the best shows we can, and I think our fans understand that. In a way, it’s good. It just shows the support we have, that people care that much.”

Posted by:Jay Bobbin