CBS’ long-running crime drama Criminal Minds once again is going down to the wire in securing the cast (and in this case a renewal) for next season. I’ve learned that after a long pause in the talks, Criminal Minds stars Thomas Gibson, Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore, Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook, whose deals are up at the end of this season, received final offers from producer ABC Studios and CBS on Friday. I hear the studio and network put a clock on the negotiations, which have to conclude by end of day tomorrow for the series to get renewed. I hear leads Gibson and Mantegna, whose re-signing is considered crucial to the the pickup, are close to new agreements though sources caution that no deals have been made yet, while Moore is deep in negotiations but far apart on the money.

Kirsten Vagsness A.J. Cook Criminal Minds ContractsMeanwhile, I hear fan favorite Vangsness and Cook have turned down the offers, and with the clock ticking, it is unclear whether the two would come back next season. I hear the duo, who are negotiating together, have decided to take a stand on the treatment of female cast members on the show as the two have consistently been been paid less than half of what all of their male counterparts — not just stars Gibson and Mantegna — are making. With the new offers again positioning them well below all other cast members, I hear Vangsness and Cook are willing to walk if they don’t get some parity with their co-stars.

ABC Studios and CBS already were taken to task on the way female cast members of Criminal Minds are treated when they cut in 2010 Cook and reduced the episodes of Paget Brewster, leaving Vangsness as the only remaining full-time female cast member. Cook and Brewster subsequently were reinstated, in part because of a major fan outcry. In addition to Vangsness and Cook, the current cast of Criminal Minds includes one more female cast member, new addition Jeanne Tripplehorn, who has not developed such a following. Criminal Minds took a step toward a renewal last week when ABC Studios signed a new deal with showrunner Erica Messer. Getting Gibson and Mantegna on board will likely secure a ninth season, but the question is whether it will feature Penelope and J.J.