Two fan-favorite leading ladies may make a triumphant return to the cast of CBS' Criminal Minds. Sources claim that A. J. Cook is in talks to return next season, and Paget Brewster could be back if her current project isn't picked up.
Cook and her character Jennifer "JJ" Jareau left Criminal Minds at the beginning of its sixth season last year. Her departure wasn't a happy one: the consensus is that the network thought the character was dispensable, and fired Cook to make the show more profitable. A fan campaign and complaints from the cast and crew fell on deaf ears.
Now Deadline reports that producers have offered Cook her regular spot back, after brainstorming new ideas for the JJ character. There's no word on whether the actress has accepted the offer or not, but a positive response would be a win for pretty much everybody involved.
Cook's fellow cast member Paget Brewster may be coming back as well. Brewster and Cook were reunited for the former's final episode as Emily Prentiss just last month, and Brewster has taken a lead role in NBC's My Life As An Experiment comedy pilot. If NBC doesn't develop the pilot into a full season, producers could exercise an option to return Brewster to her role.
But wait, there's more! Ed Bernero, executive producer for Criminal Minds' entire six-season run, won't be returning for a seventh. Bernero is developing a pilot called Partners for ABC. Showrunner duties would subsequently fall to producer Erica Messer, who has been with the show for nearly as long.
Criminal Minds is no stranger to a shifting roster of talent, both on and off screen. The first big shock to fans was the departure of lead actor Mandy Patinkin after season 2, who complained that the show was promoting violence on television. Patinkin is currently starring in national security thriller Homeland, from the writers of 24.
After Patinkin left, there were so many changes to the core cast that it would take a spreadsheet (like this one) to list them all. And the changes aren't stopping yet: another producer, Simon Mirren, will also leave the show after Season 6 to work for Sony Pictures.
Stars Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore still haven't renewed their contracts for season 7. Moore has already left and returned once in the ongoing game of casting musical chairs. In addition, a return for Cook could mean current star Rachel Nichols gets the boot.
Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights at 9PM on CBS.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider
Source: Deadline Hollywood
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