In a staggering deal that only The Mentalist himself could have seen coming, Simon Baker, the 41-year-old star of the hit CBS crime drama, has reportedly reached a new agreement with Warner Bros. that extends his current contract another year and guarantees the actor an estimated $30 million payday.
The attractive new deal is said to give Baker a larger piece of the pie (more of The Mentalist's backend profits) in addition to a much sought-after producer credit - beginning in the program's fifth season.
The most lucrative long-term aspect of Baker's deal, undoubtedly, is the backend action the Australian TV and film star is getting from Warner Bros. - which now syndicates The Mentalist on TNT. Just last year, Warner Bros. sold The Mentalist's syndication rights for better than $2 million per episode. Original episodes of the program are still cash cows in their own right - with each averaging approximately sixteen million viewers.
The deal with Baker - who was previously best known for starring alongside Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada - effectively makes The Mentalist star one of the entertainment industry's highest paid television actors.
Word of the deal and Baker's subsequent newfound lofty status in the television world came as a surprise to many who though The Mentalist's recent dip in ratings and viewer interest foreshadowed a downhill slide for the series. Despite the mega success of the series right out of the gates in 2008, The Mentalist's audience has already fallen by a noticeable 6% and, in particular, a disappointing 15% in the all important 18 to 49 demographic.
However, according to Deadline, The Mentalist, a series in which Baker portrays Patrick Jane, a psychic consultant to the California Bureau of Investigation, remains "one of the most DVR-ed programs on TV" - chalking up an additional three million viewers each week from playback viewing.
Still, Baker has inked a deal that few saw coming. And barring any psychic ability on the part of Warner Bros., it would appear that the new agreement comes as The Mentalist has already reached the zenith of its popularity.
The Mentalist airs Thursdays at 10 PM EST on CBS.