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NCIS Boss on Cote de Pablo's Exit: "I Can't Replace Her"

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Yesterday at his Television Critics Association press tour panel, CBS President Leslie Moonves talked about Cote de Pablo’s exit from NCIS and how the network did all it could to keep her on board.

Soon afterward, meanwhile, I grabbed some one-on-one time with showrunner Gary Glasberg to talk specifics about the surprise departure.

Exactly how many episodes will the beloved de Pablo appear in? Will Tiva fans be satisfied? And what happens to the NCIS team after Ziva David leaves the show? Read on for all the answers...

Cote de Pablo as Ziva

TV Fanatic: You probably heard what Les said this morning about basically giving de Pablo a truck full of money to stay but she’s still leaving…
Gary Glasberg: That is absolutely true. I think I was quoted many times months ago saying that I was positive that this was going to work out and I really was. To get to the point where we were a few days before prep and to suddenly be thrown what happened, I had to gut everything and start all over again.

The storyline where we left Gibbs [in the season finale] still plays but basically the first two episodes are this interwoven storyline of the Gibbs story and now the Ziva story and the second episode she plays very prominently in and then that’s her last episode.

So I locked myself away and I came up with this storyline and I’m pleased with it. I think it will be satisfied for all the fans but the Tony-Ziva fans especially. Look, she’s a part of this group and a part of this family and team but everybody respects this decision and we’ve got to move on.

She’s in the first two [episodes] and then…I feel like there’s a mourning period that has to happen. I can’t just put somebody else in there. As I’ve said to many people, I can’t replace her, I can’t replace Ziva David but what I can do at some point I can find someone who fills a new void and something new that adds to the group.

I think we’re going to take a nice long break, basically, and let the team in the show as well as the cast adjust to what’s happened but eventually Vance is going to look at that desk and say ‘it’s empty and we have to fill it.’ And then we’ll find somebody.

Honestly, I think people are excited about it, I know the writers are. I think they’re excited about having something new to play and it opens up all kinds of doors. I think Michael Weatherly would say the same thing. He’s basically, in the second episode, he goes and finds her and they end up spending real time together. I genuinely wanted to deliver everything I wanted to the fans knowing that this is kind of it.

TVF: Is the door left open?
GG: I don’t want to specifically say what happens to her but I’ll tell you I think that people will be very satisfied where it’s left. And all the Tiva chemistry, I think it will all deliver. There are some lovely, fantastic scenes in that episode.

And then we’ll pick up Episode 3 with Gibbs saying to Tony, “We’ve got a job to do,” in his usual Gibbs way and then we’ll get back into it. But then there’s going to be this fun…I wanted to keep it entertaining for people and there’s going to be this fun rotation of people of women coming and going. Everyone from an older agent about to retire…this curmudgeonly woman who literally is three days away from retirement and just needs to burn some time up at a desk. We’ll play it lightly like that and eventually when people will least expect it something will happen and hopefully someone will walk in and that will be the one.

NCIS Season 11 premiere September 24th on CBS.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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I am just astonished that this is still going on having not been away for the weekend. These things tend to be a combination of circumstances not just one thing.It is all smoke and mirrors and while it is that I prefer to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I wish Cote de Pablo all good things and thank her for all those episodes that gave us so much pleasure.

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I jus can't believe that Cote is leaving us!!!! As a longtime fan of NCIS I am heartbroken!!!! The dynamic of Gibbs, Tony, McGee, Zeva, Abby and Ducky is going to be forever changed. Your fans are very disappointed in you Cote. Please don't bring back the Red team, that scenario was a SNOOZE!!!! However I look forward to the next season anyway, the remaining cast members will always make me drop everything and be in front of my TV every Tuesday at 8:00 pm!!! Love them all.

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GG said in an interview that her decision was very last minute. From what I've read she wanted more money than other more senior cast members, a shorter term contract, and even more screen time. Of course some fans, with absolutely no credible truth are claiming that CdP is some kind of victim with CBS, Les Moonves, cast members, producers, and writers being the object of nasty venomous rants and verbal attacks. I don't if any of these things are true or not, but I agree that pulling out at the last minute was unprofessional and had to have been hard on cast, crew, and writers. That's is not how you treat people if you care about them.

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•McWilliams
August 2nd, 2013 7:44 PM SHE HAD HER CHANCE AND SHE HAD NO LOYALTY TO FANS WHO MADE HER. TO DO THIS AT THE 11TH HOUR IS SO UNPROFESSIONAL FROM MY POINT OF VIEW.
AS THEY USE TO SAY DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU WHERE THE GOOD LORD SPLIT YOU. Are you pulling this view out of your ass?

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Check in to see Diane Neal (Borin) and Muse Watson's (Frank) comments on Twitter. Diane, one of her best friends has been talking to Cotes and has passed on the Fans well wishes, support and concerns.
Diane finds her friend,
"..IS exceptional, thoughtful and truly deserves the affection you feel for her. She's a special gal".
Cotes has made the move in the best interest for us, the Fans,crew, or for some reason, or another :-( Cotes closest confidantes knows ONLY why this decision was truly made! ONE OF GIBB'S RULES - NEVER ASSUME !!

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I'm sorry to see her go but like actors/actresses they must decide for themselves what is best for them. I wish her loves, hugs and prayers as she moves on in her life. I will miss her on the NCIS but I am hoping to see her in other things as I watch movies and TV series as she is a very talented actress. Good Luck Senorita' María José de Pablo Fernández.

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I THINK THAT SINCE THE ZIVA CHARACTER APPEARED THE SHOW HAS DRIFTED. FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND THEY ARE FINALLY GOING TO GET BACK TO SOLID STORY LINES. MOVE PAST ISRAELI SECRET SERVICE STORY LINES. MAYBE THEY REALLY ARE GOING TO GET BACK TO SOLID NAVY/MARINE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS. SHE HAD HER CHANCE AND SHE HAD NO LOYALTY TO FANS WHO MADE HER. TO DO THIS AT THE 11TH HOUR IS SO UNPROFESSIONAL FROM MY POINT OF VIEW.
AS THEY USE TO SAY DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU WHERE THE GOOD LORD SPLIT YOU.

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I wish Cote good luck, it's her decision to leave. As for a replacement, how about Diane Neal or Alicia Coppola (I don't know if I spelled her name correctly). No EJ as a replacement,please. I think with such good writers and actors, they'll come up with someone good. NCIS is awesome, my favorite show.

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CORRECTION.....BAD A$$ ....NOT BASS ...SORRY

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I hope she changes her mind and comes back. The show will still be good but abby is cool as he11 and ziva is just bass a$$. We named our daughter ziva in hopes she will be as tough and as beautiful as ziva is on ncis. :) Ziva and abby wouldnt go to good together lol otherwise she woulda had both names .