Zap2it: Were you relieved that unlike last year, you didn't have to wait until the last minute to get the "Criminal Minds" renewal for another season?
Joe Mantegna: Yeah, they gave us a break this time. I kept reassuring the crew, because they always have fears about that stuff, but I'm practical ... and I've been around long enough, too. I saw our [ratings] numbers and how we were doing, and I've also done a couple of European press tours for the show, and I see its popularity worldwide.
I told the crew, "Look, they may dance around with us for a while for whatever reasons, but trust me. This show has real value." Our numbers are so good that we're still one of the top shows out there, so we're not going anywhere. Nothing on the horizon is going to make this go away, at least not in the near future.
Zap2it: You directed an episode for the first time this past season. Do you think you'll direct the show again next season?
Joe Mantegna: I actually know I will. They asked me if I would do another one, and I agreed, so I'll do that around mid-November, and it will probably air sometime after the holidays. I have some ideas that I'm going to throw around with them.
They gave me a little extra budget on the last one because it was leading into the 200th episode. I was like, "If I can get a big crane" -- which is a pretty expensive commodity -- "we can do a cool kind of shot at the end." And we were able to do that, which I was happy about."
Photo/Video credit: CBS