Michael Ausiello
January 25, 2010 AT 12:00 PM EST

Oscar winner Forest Whitaker is nearing a deal to headline CBS’ in-the-works spin-off of Criminal Minds, sources confirm to me semi-exclusively.

Whitaker would play Cooper, the new team’s fiercely loyal and intensely private leader. A former star profiler in the BAU, Coop’s been off the grid for the last eight years — leaving only a trail of rumors in his wake.

Minds 2.0 will follow the NCIS/NCIS: LA model in that the new team will be introduced in an episode of Minds this spring before being launched into their own show next fall. Seasoned industry professionals like myself refer to it as a “planted” spin-off.

This is Whitaker’s first regular TV gig since his mesmerizing turn as Michael Chiklis’ arch-nemesis, Jon Kavanaugh, on The Shield.


Photo Credit: John Spellman/Retna Ltd.

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