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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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It doesn't matter why she's leaving, it's her choice, her decision. I wish her the best of luck.

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Wondering if she thought that she was a bigger star then she is. Many actors/actress's leave thinking they will become BIG movie stars. Most that do that are forgotten. Sorry to say but in a few years she may only be remembered as Ziva.

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Just three episodes well it is hardly worth watching. Oh dear another show bits the dust but there is only one person I hope is happy in all of this. My poor husband is heartbroken as we only watched two American shows well now one.We only watched three anyway. Take care of your of yourself Gary and you CdP.

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Has anyone mentioned a reason why she is leaving the show? It might be easier to take if we knew her reason. Maybe I wouldn't be so mad at her :)

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Yes you can all you have to do is believe