Catherine Bell Army WivesEXCLUSIVE: Army Wives star Catherine Bell has signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios, which produces the veteran Lifetime drama series. The deal is qualified as a talent holding one as Army Wives has not been officially renewed beyond the current supersized sixth season. It would cover Bell’s services on the show for two more seasons, and I hear it includes a big salary bump from the actress’ current paycheck, which is in the high five figures per episode. While yet to pull the trigger on a Season 7, Lifetime has been actively exploring its options, including applying for the California TV tax credit lottery, which will be held Friday. I hear keeping the show in South Carolina for one more season and moving production to Los Angeles for two more seasons are among the discussed scenarios. None of the original cast members of Army Wives have deals beyond Season 6, and locking in Bell is a major step towards a potential renewal.

Army Wives has been key to Lifetime’s rebuilding plans. The network had originally ordered a 13-episode sixth season. But in November, while that order was still in production, it picked up 10 additional episodes, which will begin airing June 24. In addition to her back-to-back starring turns on two successful drama series, JAG and Army Wives, Bell also has a lucrative original movie franchise in Hallmark Channel’s The Good Witch. I hear Bell, repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment, is closing a deal for a fifth and sixth installment in the franchise, which was launched in 2008.