EXCLUSIVE: My news will be cheered by fans of the CBS comedy and follows the network logging a second consecutive Monday win in adults 18-49 and total viewers. For those keeping score, the hourlong winter finale of How I Met Your Mother (3.4/9) was up 6% from last week’s half-hour episode. That Monday lineup took a hit this fall facing competition from The Voice and suffering from the move of Two And A Half Men to Thursday, so it was important for CBS to secure HIMYM for another season – especially as another tough negotiation with Warner Bros for Two And A Half Men is coming up. Now HIMYM‘s 9th season is secure even if the network and the studio and the cast are keeping mum right now. (Meanwhile I stopped watching after Season 2 because I can’t stand not knowing who the mom is, dammit.) Of course there was drama aplenty culminating today when all the cast deals closed after hard work by agents and managers and lawyers and executives and after an 11th hour turnaround of Jason Segel who was set on bailing.
So here’s what happened: HIMYM is in the last year of its current license deal with the network, while the contracts of creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays and the cast are all up at the end of the season. Understandably, Thomas and Bays had requested a decision to be made by the end of this month because of the overarching mythology of the show, which needs to finally begin building toward that big mother reveal when an end date is set. As the clock kept ticking, activity on all three fronts stepped up between CBS and HIMYM producer 20th Century Fox TV as well as between 20th TV and Thomas-Bays and between the studio and reps for the series’ stars: Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan. It was well-known that Segel was the lone holdout with everyone else wanting to continue. After all, a virtual unknown when the show launched in 2005, he has a prolific film career now and gave the sitcom 8 seasons already. I learned tonight that Segel indeed “decided to bail and leave the cast hangung. But he just got turned around today at the last second. The show was literally dead.”
As for the cast, the HIMYM quintet is a very tight group, with the actors supporting each other. So it may have been a sign of camaraderie for Segel to agree to the final season. CBS has been very public about its desire to bring HIMYM for another season. (“We want the show to come back next year,” the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler said in August.) 20th TV and Thomas & Bays also wanted another season. CBS and 20th TV both have a good track record in completing complex negotiations. CBS has been able to bring back Two And A Half Men, also from an outside studio (Warner Bros), several times in down-to-the-wire negotiations. And 20th TV has successfully renewed the deals with the casts of its top series after sometime contentious negotiations.