EW's TV scooper on Mariska Hargitay's ''SVU'' break, ''The Mentalist'' back story, and more

By Michael Ausiello
Updated March 13, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Hargitay heads off duty on SVU
After Mariska Hargitay recently needed a second surgery as a result of the collapsed lung she suffered in January, producers of Law & Order: SVU were forced to replace her in at least one upcoming episode. But don’t worry; no one will permanently take over her beat. Rather, an SVU source says Ice-T’s Fin ”will step in for Mariska” alongside Chris Meloni in an April episode titled ”Baggage.” Beyond that, the source says everyone is hopeful that Hargitay will be filming episodes again by the end of the month. ”She’s doing great,” maintains the source. ”She will recuperate for a few weeks and be back better than ever.”

Trace, Case Closed?
CBS has alerted execs at Without a Trace (with Anthony LaPaglia) and Cold Case that the long-running procedurals are prime candidates for cancellation come May. ”They no longer have the type of ratings that justify the massive overhead,” points out an Eye source, who adds that the Trace and Case bean counters are looking for ways to trim costs and avoid getting the ax. In related news, craft services at both shows are proud to announce that April is Ramen Noodle Soup Month!


Q: I’m hearing rumblings that someone is leaving House at the end of the season. What are you hearing?Maria
A: I’m hearing what series creator David Shore is telling me, and I think it’s a confirmation wrapped inside a denial. Asked if he’s planning any staff changes heading into the fall, Shore says we’ll ”pretty much see the same cast.” (Let me call your attention to the following words: pretty and much.) ”[There’s] cool stuff coming up, but I can’t even hint at it,” he adds about this season’s final four episodes. ”It’s like a set of dominoes. I knock one over, they all fall over.”

Q: Got any scoop on my new favorite show, The Mentalist?Katie
A: The May season finale will revisit the mystery surrounding who killed Patrick’s (Simon Baker) wife and child. Furthermore, coexecutive producer Chris Long teases that ”something happens at the end of [the episode] that will change the way you look at Patrick.” As long as you don’t change the way he looks, we’re good.

Q: We already know that Edie is going to die on Desperate Housewives. What else can you tell us?Jason
A: Orson’s increasingly bizarre behavior will prompt Bree to toss around the D-word. (Ugh, do I have to spell everything out? D-I-V-O-R-C-E.) Also, the Dave Williams (Neal McDonough) crazy train takes an unexpected detour when we learn that the psycho killer has been targeting the wrong Wisterian. Oopsie!

Additional reporting by Tanner Stransky