Question: Whaaat? You're leaving us hanging as to whether Scott Patterson is returning to Gilmore Girls? Tell us what you know, or we'll send Nekkid Kirk screencaps. — Anne Price

Ausiello: Uncle! OK, when I was on the set in March, Scott Patterson informed me that, unlike Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, who are under contract for two more seasons, his deal expires at the end of next season — the show's sixth. "I'm out after six," he said. "[My staying] depends on several key factors that I'm not at liberty to discuss. It's definitely not a certainty [that I'll stick around]. I'd like it to all work out. I'm thinking positively, but we'll see. The next few months will be crucial in that decision-making process." As loyal readers of this column know full well, everyone (Lauren, Alexis, Amy Sherman-Palladino) would like to see the show go for seven seasons. Could Patterson really envision Luke going AWOL during GG's final year? Sadly, he could. "I don't think Luke and Lorelai are the end-all and be-all of Gilmore Girls," he confessed. "I think it would survive without me. It's not really up to me, actually. I can't say anymore than that. I probably said too much already."

So what's a dogged reporter to do when an actor clams up just as he's about to get to the good stuff? He goes over said actor's head and gets his boss to fill in the blanks. And fill them in she did. "Scott is not just one of the town anymore," says exec producer Amy Sherman-Palladino, all but confirming that money is the sticking point. "He's become very, very, very, very — how many verys can I put? — important to the show, and I think everybody knows that.

"Contracts are a tricky, funny thing," she adds. "It's a business. The one thing I can say is I don't think anybody — studio or network — does not know how valuable he is. I don't anticipate there being any problem, because I think that, at the end of the day, you gotta make a show, and somebody's gotta pay for somebody to show up. I would be very surprised if a seventh year came and we didn't have Scott Patterson on the show. I'd be kinda stunned."