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Cote de Pablo to leave 'NCIS' next season

"NCIS' " Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and Tony

"NCIS' " Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and Tony (Michael Weatherly) share a moment and then things get bad in a hurry. (Credit: CBS)

It's zero hour for Ziva: Cote de Pablo, one of the biggest stars on TV's biggest show, "NCIS," will leave the series sometime next season, she confirmed to the trades last night.

Here's her statement — lifted from the Hollywood Reporter:

“I’ve had eight great years with NCIS and Ziva David. I have huge respect and affection for Mark [Harmon], Gary [Glasberg], Michael [Weatherly], David [McCallum], Rocky [Carroll], Pauley [Perrette], Brian [Dietzen], Sean [Murray], all of the team and CBS. I look forward to finishing Ziva’s story.”

CBS and the network's studio partner on the hit have confirmed since: “We respect Cote’s decision, thank her for being an important part of the NCIS team, and for eight terrific years playing Ziva David. Cote and CBS share a great respect for the NCIS audience, and we look forward to working with her and the producers on appropriate closure in this chapter of Ziva’s story.”

Yes, a huge departure that begs an explanation, and for a change, I don't have one. Always look to the money in TV, and while CBS locked in Harmon before show renewal earlier this year — doubtless at a very high ticket price — it seems inconceivable that de Pablo wouldn't get her own deal, too. (Except never use the word "inconceivable" when it comes to salary negotiations.) Yes, this is the biggest departure on the series since Harmon muscled show creator Don Belisario out of the picture years ago.

But again...why, why why? De Pablo was part of a major story line last season — searching for the killer of her father — and was nearly killed herself in that Berlin car accident with DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). Plus, the romantic possibilities remain.

Plus, she's pretty good on the show — a show, by the way, that has consumed much of her professional life. Chilean-born de Pablo is 33.

Tags: Cote de Pablo , NCIS , Mark Harmon , CBS , Michael Weatherly

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