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'The Mentalist' and Simon Baker find a hit

March 21, 2009 | 12:23 pm

Mentalist_lat_ke7mscnc_400 Simon Baker is having a rough time. He's battling a stubborn cold, and the pressures of a long shooting day on the Warner Bros. lot are taking their toll. But Baker, the star of CBS' " The Mentalist," still has a smile and twinkle in his eyes. That's how it is when you're the face of the season's only breakout hit at a time when few believed it possible for a major network to deliver a sizable weekly audience for a new scripted program.

"Everything is good right now, really good," said Baker, apologizing for his cough and the rasp in his voice. "Every TV show is a crapshoot, really. But every once in a while, a show gets anointed as 'the show.' And at the moment, we are it."

Even up against Fox's formidable " American Idol," which has earned the nickname "Death Star" for obliterating the competition, "The Mentalist" has emerged as the most popular -- and most unlikely -- hit of the network TV season.

Read the full story here.

-- Greg Braxton

(Photo: There is no plan for the characters played by Simon Baker and Robin Tunney to develop a romance, a seemingly mandatory story line for most shows.  Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)