Exactly a year ago, David Shore, creator/executive producer of Fox’s drama House was pushing the network to make a decision on the future of the show by the end of 2011 so he can give it a proper ending if faced with cancellation. At the time, House was in its eighth season, with Shore and star Hugh Laurie’s contracts coming up. Fox and producing studio Universal TV didn’t have a license fee deal for another season. The network didn’t make a decision by end of December as Shore wished, but by the beginning of February, the verdict was in – House would end its run after eight seasons.
Fast forward a year to this week. CBS‘ comedy How I Met Your Mother is in Season 8 and the last year of its current license deal with the network, with the contracts of creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays and the cast all up at the end of the season. Like Shore, 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 begin building toward the big mother reveal when an end date is set. Three weeks before the end of the year, there is activity on all three fronts — talks are underway between CBS and HIMYM producer 20th Century Fox TV as well as between 20th TV and Thomas and Bays and between the studio and reps for the series’ stars, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan.
CBS has been open 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. “We’re not there yet in terms of resolving the situation, but we’re pretty optimistic.” It appears that the studio, 20th TV, and Thomas & Bays are also open to the idea of another season. But what about the cast? A virtual unknown when the show launched in 2005, Segel has seen his feature career take off over the past seven years. I hear that as of now, Segel has indicated that it is unlikely for him to return. He has not shut the door though.
In another walk down TV memory lane, in 2003 the deals of the Friends cast were coming up after the ninth season, and star Jennifer Aniston was public about her desire to leave and focus on her feature career. But ultimately she and the rest of the cast signed on for an abbreviated 10th and final season that would bag everyone a huge payday. Like the Friends‘ cast, the HIMYM quintet is a very tight group, with the actors supporting each other. So it is not inconceivable, in a sign of camaraderie, for Segel to agree to a (possibly abbreviated) final season.
CBS and 20th TV both have 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. With its Monday lineup taking a hit this fall facing competition from The Voice and suffering from the move of Two And A Half Men to Thursday, it is important for CBS to secure HIMYM for another season, especially as another tough negotiation with Warner Bros. for Men is coming up.