By Michael Ausiello
Updated December 20, 2019 at 05:28 AM EST
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Warning: If you’re an out-of-work actor, this story may induce uncontrollable head-scratching and/or violent convulsions.

Gossip Girl third-stringer Connor Paolo, who plays Blake Lively’s little (and recently outed) brother, Eric van der Woodsen, has rejected an offer from the show to become a series regular.

OMFGRUSERIOUS? Totally serious.

So what’s the deal? Is he scared to be gaycast, as Thomas Dekker allegedly was circa Heroes? Nah. My Gossip rumor monger insists that the One Life to Live alum is “totally comfortable playing a gay character.” More likely, it’s about dollars and common sense.

See, the deal that was put before Paolo was not for all shows produced, or ASP as it’s called in the biz. Rather, the contract called for him to appear in only half of this season’s 25 episodes, which is about what he’s been averaging as a recurring player, anyway. So, basically, by remaining a free agent, he’s got the same gig with none of the strings attached.

“He probably didn’t want to commit to being ninth fiddle on a show,” theorizes one TV agent. “Sure, he’ll make less money, but he’s free to accept other opportunities in TV and film should they come along. It’s not a bad move if you have aspirations to do other things.”

And although a Gossip rep declined to comment, and so did Paolo’s agent, my insider stresses that, contract or no, the young thespian remains happily committed to TV’s hottest soap for the foreseeable future. Schedule permitting, of course.

So what do you think? Is Paolo a JV David Caruso with an ego that’s bigger than his resume? Did he go all nervous Nellie over the prospect of setting off casting directors’ gaydar forevermore? Or is this all much ado about less than nothing? Theories below!

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