9:29am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Stana Katic Among Pair Leaving ABC's 'Castle'
There's a major change underway on ABC's Castle.
Leading lady Stana Katic and fellow original star Tamala Jones are exiting the ABC procedural, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Meanwhile, the network and producers ABC Studios are in talks with lead Nathan Fillion to return for a potential ninth final season.
While the drama has not yet been renewed for a ninth season, producers are considering multiple avenues to shake up the aging procedural and renew the series for a ninth season.
"Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past eight 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. "Tamala Jones has also been an integral part of the series and we are grateful she was a part of Castle."
News that Katic would exit the drama ahead of season nine should come as little surprise. Sources tell THR that the actress, who negotiated a last-minute return for season eight, has been unhappy on the series and has had repeated clashes with lead Fillion. That led producers to split up the on-screen couple this season — drawing the ire of dedicated fans who had been waiting eight years for the couple to marry.
Insiders stress that it was ABC and ABC Studios' decision to let Katic and Jones exit the series as they look for avenues to reduce costs on the pricey drama and return it for a ninth season.
Returning Castle seems to be a high priority for ABC. Under new network president Channing Dungey — formerly head of drama for the studio — ABC is said to be looking for more tried and true procedurals rather than the soapy fare for which it is best known. The network's drama slate, picked up under Paul Lee, focuses largely on soaps with only a sprinkling of procedurals that are said to be a high priority for Ben Sherwood.
For Castle, the shake-up comes in the first year for new showrunners Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter, who took over for David Amann. Season eight has also been its first without Castle creator Andrew Marlowe and his writer-producer wife Terri Miller. This season, the series enlisted Toks Olagundoye after former series regular Penny Johnson Jerald announced she would not be returning for season eight.
Marlowe acknowledged the departures on Twitter: "Heartbroken. There are no words," he wrote.