With CSI spun out to within an inch of its life, what’s CBS to do? Find another established hit to exploit, natch! Yes, Criminal Minds, I’m talking about you.

Executive producer Ed Bernero confirms to me exclusively that “substantive” discussions are currently taking place between CBS and producer ABC Studios to expand the Minds franchise with an offshoot. “It’s safe to say there will be something soon,” he reveals. “We had talked about it from the beginning, but something always got in the way of it happening… like Mandy [Patinkin] leaving and the strike. But it’s definitely gaining momentum now.”

A consensus on what an alternate Minds would look like has not yet been reached, but Bernero says they’re “looking at all of the things the FBI does and how we can work that into the Criminal Minds world.” The idea would likely be introduced during a special episode of Minds to air later this coming season.

The big question, of course, is whether one of the show’s current cast will be poached to headline the new series. “I don’t think so,” Bernero says. “We’re very happy with the team we have. On the other hand, it’s possible characters could be on both shows… All options are open.”

Well, except for the one labeled “Mandy Patinkin.” That one I’m pretty sure is closed.

OK, Criminal Minds fans (I’ve seen the ratings, I know you’re out there), what’s your take on this potential version 2.0? Yay? Nay? Could care less? Sound off below!

Oh, and in other news, I’m getting ready to launch a revolutionary new weekly column that features questions from my readers (that’s you!) about spoilers, scoop and other assorted nonsense, so now all I need are those questions. Send them to — and tell your friends!

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