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: Emily Prentiss is turning in her badge. Criminal Minds co-star Paget Brewster will leave the hit CBS drama series at the end of this season. Brewster had been itching to do something else for awhile. Last year, she used a provision in her modified deal for Criminal Minds that allowed her to shoot a pilot and did NBC’s comedy My Life as an Experiment. Had the pilot gone to series, Brewster would’ve left the CBS drama for it but when it didn’t, Criminal Minds producer ABC Studios had an option to bring her back and exercised it. I hear that Brewster, whose contract is up in May, wanted to do a half-hour pilot again this year but didn’t get the blessing of CBS and ABC Studios who tried to keep her on the show with an offer for a new deal. (While not officially renewed, Criminal Minds, a strong ratings performer, is guaranteed to return next season.) Brewster opted to leave. “After six wonderful years playing Emily Prentiss, I have decided it’s time for me to move on,” she said in a statement to Deadline. “As much as I will miss my Criminal Minds family, I am excited about the future and other opportunities.” Brewster notified the producers and the cast of Criminal Minds of her decision yesterday. “We were all sad to hear the news, but we respect and support any decision Paget wants to make,” the series’ executive producer/showrunner Erica Messer told Deadline. “Personally, I’m a huge fan and will continue to be one wherever she goes.” Before Criminal Minds, which Brewster joined early in the second season, she did a slew of comedy series, starting with her memorable arc on Friends.
Brewster’s departure caps a roller-coaster last 2 years for her on the show. In the summer of 2010, she was asked to continue on Criminal Minds in a reduced capacity while her friend and co-star A.J. Cook was let go. Brewster ended up being in every episode until she left to do a pilot last season, and Cook eventually returned to the show full-time. Because of the uncertainty surrounding her NBC pilot at the time Brewster’s last episode on Criminal Minds‘ sixth season was filmed, Brewster shot a cliff-hanger ending for her character. When the pilot didn’t get picked up, she was enlisted for the current sevenths season of Criminal Minds, something Brewster recently told TV Guide she was surprised by. “They said, ‘You’re back!’ I had another year on my contract that I didn’t know about, so I had to come back! I said, ‘Hey, I kinda want an apology and maybe a raise.’ And they were like, ‘No, we’ll sue you!'” Brewster said with a laugh. “The whole thing was, unfortunately, a mess. It was dumb. They thought they would save money by getting rid of us … and in the end got both of us back.” While Brewster is leaving, most oher Criminal Minds co-stars, including Thomas Gibson, Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore and Cook, have deals in place for next season. Matthew Gray Gubler is in the process of renegotiating his.