Not surprisingly, Criminal Minds is having a problem holding on to a member of its cast. Unlike the drama that surrounded the exit (and subsequent return) of A.J. Cook & Paget Brewster, however, the problem this time surrounds the future contract of key star Thomas Gibson.
For fans of Criminal Minds, the off-season and off-camera drama has often outmatched even the twisted storylines thought up by the show’s writing staff. Having made a name for itself with an ever-changing line-up of acting talent, the CBS police procedural had managed to keep Gibson’s central character Special Agent Aaron ‘Hotch’ Hotchner around for six years – while key players like Mandy Patinkin simply up and left, and the aforementioned Cook and Brewster played musical chairs with available spots on the show.
The delay in Gibson’s contract means there is growing worry production on the upcoming season of Criminal Minds will be negatively affected if an accord cannot soon be reached. This fact has certainly placed additional strain on the negotiations – and may account for rumors that dialogue between the two parties have hit a wall.
Writers for the show have already begun preparatory meetings in order to hash out the overall storylines of the season – with Hotch’s return up in the air, the writers are finding it difficult to get anything set in stone. In the event Gibson does not come back, the entire balance of the show could be upset, thereby drastically altering the status quo of the characters, not to mention the added headache of possibly finding someone to take his place.
While losing an integral character like Aaron Hotchner would certainly be a major blow to the series, CBS and Criminal Minds writers planned for such a contingency with the season 6 finale, so they’re at least somewhat prepared. Additionally, those penning the scripts will be able to draw upon their experience when Joe Mantegna replaced Mandy Patinkin in a similarly high-profile role.
However the negotiations work out, a great deal of credit needs to be thrown Gibson’s way. Despite the undoubtedly stressful situation he finds himself in, the actor has still managed to fulfill his obligations to the show – primarily by appearing at the CBS upfronts last month and meeting with international buyers interested in acquiring Criminal Minds for overseas markets. With luck, Gibson’s commitment at these events suggest the actor is still interested in returning to the show and that talks may not be going as poorly as the delay implies.
As news breaks on whether Gibson will receive a new deal or his walking papers, we will be sure to keep you posted.
Criminal Minds returns this fall, Wednesdays @9pm on CBS.