UPDATE: Reached for comment by Dateline, Criminal Minds star Thomas Gibson gave us the following statement, “We all love Paget and her character and will miss her greatly but I know that she will have continued great success.”
EXCLUSIVE: This was close: After lengthy and rough negotiations, Criminal Minds star Thomas Gibson just signed a deal to return to the veteran CBS drama only two weeks before it is scheduled to begin production on its upcoming seventh season. I hear Gibson has signed on for two more years in a deal worth mid-to-high seven figures, plus a signing bonus, with the actor more than doubling his previous salary. The difficult negotiations with CBS, CBS Studios and ABC Studios created some jitters in the Criminal Minds writers room as the show’s scribes have been breaking stories and working on scripts for next season for almost a month now without knowing for sure if Gibson’s character, Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, will return. With Gibson and Shemar Moore set to come back and Paget Brewster and A.J. Cook rejoining them,
EXCLUSIVE: JJ fans can rejoice. After a week of negotiations, A.J. Cook just closed a two-year deal to return to CBS’ drama Criminal Minds as a regular. She will guest star in the series’ sixth season finale on May 18 before re-joining the show full-time in the fall.
Cook departed Criminal Minds after the end of last season when her option was not picked up, stirring outcry among fans of the show. She appeared in the first two episodes of this season to wrap the storyline of her character JJ, who was transferred from the BAU to a job at the Pentagon. Cook then returned for the last episode of the season for co-star Paget Brewster, which aired last month. If Brewster’s NBC comedy pilot My Life As An Experiment does not go to series, she will also likely return to Criminal Minds in the fall since series’ producer ABC Studios has an option on her. Cook’s return to Criminal Minds does not bode well for newly minted regular Rachel Nichols, who was brought in to fill the void left by Cook’s departure. Meanwhile, ABC Studios is yet to close new deals with original cast members Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore for next season, with negotiations continuing.