'Criminal Minds' Season 9: Renewal closer with Erica Messer back as showrunner

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kirsten-vangsness-criminal-minds-season-9.jpg"Criminal Minds" is one of only a handful of CBS series still waiting on a renewal for next season, but the hit show is one step closer with a new deal for executive producer and showrunner Erica Messer.

Deadline reports Messer finalized a new two-year deal with "Criminal Minds" producer ABC Studios and will continue as showrunner for Season 9 of "Minds." That's an important step toward locking in much of the cast to return, as Deadline notes that Messer's work on the show has been well received by the actors.

There are currently no deals in place for five key members of the show's cast -- Thomas Gibson, Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore, Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook -- to return after this season. With each actor negotiating separately it's entirely possible that some deals could close before CBS' May 15 upfront presentation of the 2013 fall schedule, while others could close after.

Two years ago, Gibson was involved in strained and lengthy negotiations which dragged all the way into June, after CBS had formally renewed the show.

In a recent interview with Zap2it, Mantegna said he feels "very confident" about the show returning for Season 9. It's just a matter of getting all the contracts worked out.

"Out of the seven actors, five of our contracts are up. And all of the writers' contracts, and the show runner's," Mantegna explained. "This is the first time they've had to deal en masse with [renegotiating with] that many people. What's going on now are the conversations between CBS and ABC, because our show is co-produced by those two networks. I think it's, in a way, a matter of them ironing out who's paying for what. I have every confidence they will, because every indication is that this show is a valuable commodity to both."

The deal with Messer suggests that "ironing out" is well under way.
Photo/Video credit: CBS