EXCLUSIVE: Caskett no more. I have learned that ABC is planning a ninth season of the venerable crime procedural without one of its two stars, female lead Stana Katic, who plays Detective Kate Beckett to Nathan Fillion’s writer-turned-PI Rick Castle. It is the main part of a major shakeup on the series, which also includes the departure of fellow original cast member Tamala Jones. Fillion has been in negotiations to return to Castle, which I hear is eyeing a shortened, likely 13-episode, ninth season, at a reduced license fee.
I hear the decision for Katic not to return was made by ABC and ABC Studios. Both Fillion and Katic last spring inked one-year contracts, which are up at the end of the current eighth season. While the studio started making overtures to Fillion for a new deal months ago and has been in on- and off- talks with him since the beginning of the year, I hear Katic was never approached to re-up her contract and was not offered an opportunity to continue on the show. Instead, I hear she, as well as Jones, were informed late last week that for budgetary reasons, they won’t be asked to come back for Season 9.
Katic would not comment on the circumstances surrounding her exit. When asked about the departure, she told Deadline, “Rather then distract from what was an amazing experience, I would just like to say that I’m very grateful to ABC for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a much beloved show. Thank you to the fans.”
Since Castle has not been renewed, ABC would not comment on any plans for the length of the potential Season 9 but confirmed to Deadline that Katic and Jones won’t be part of it.
“Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past 8 years. We are grateful for Stana Katic’s talent and dedication to the series and we hope to continue our relationship,” ABC said in a statement to Deadline. “Tamala Jones has also been an integral part of the series and we are grateful she was a part of Castle.”
Jones played the whip-smart medical examiner Lanie Parish who was Beckett’s close friend and confidante. “I’ve had so much fun playing the wonderful and unfiltered Lanie over the past eight seasons,” Jones said in a statement to Deadline. “I will greatly miss the cast and crew – it’s been a privilege getting to work with this incredibly hard working group of people. Thank you to ABC for this opportunity and to the fans for their unwavering support. It’s been an incredible journey and I can’t wait for what lies ahead!”
None of the other Castle cast members besides Fillion have been given an indication about their future on the show though sources indicate that Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas would likely return alongside Fillion who is said to be close with them while not getting along so well with Katic. (Fillion and Katic only filmed together two days a week this season, which was stipulated in Fillion’s contract amid reports of on-set tension between the two.)
While the series is called Castle, Beckett’s character has been as prominent on the show, which evolved into a two-lead Moonlighting-style comedic drama. Castle creator Andrew Marlowe had always called the Castle/Beckett relationship central to the concept of the series.
Marlowe left Castle at the end of last season when Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter were named new showrunners. The two were handed the difficult task of shepherding the eighth season with the future of the series and its stars up in the air. Amid that uncertainty, the show filmed two different endings for the upcoming Season 8 finale, including a cliffhanger one in which I hear both Castle and Beckett’s lives are left hanging in the balance.
“There’s stuff up in the air, so we are trying to leave it in a very dynamic way which leaves open the possibility that maybe the show won’t come back in the same form next season — although, again, we really hope that it does,” Hawley told TVLine over the weekend.’
The departure of Katic and Jones is expected to be used to attempt a creative reboot, which is difficult to accomplish so late in the life of a show. Long-running series like Castle are expensive, and with ratings inevitably slipping, implementing cost reductions is not uncommon though those rarely affect the stars of a show. While Castle‘s ratings are down vs. last season, the crime series has been a reliable performer, posting a 1.1 adults 18-49 Live+same rating for the last six airings and getting close to tying its season high of 1.2 last Monday with a 1.14 rating. The show’s DVR gains have been solid, with the April 4 episode growing 55% to a 1.7 L+3 demo rating.