Press Tour: Les Moonves insists CBS offered Cote de Pablo 'a lot of money'
CEO says leaving 'NCIS' was her decision
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In the days leading up to CBS' Monday (July 29) presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour, a number of emails began to circulate to a wide array of reporters.
Fans of "NCIS" wanted to make it clear both that they were able to dig up the email addresses for dozens of TCA members, but also that they were concerned about a recent departure from the show's cast.
Claiming to represent Operation Bring Back Cote, the emails requested that we ask CBS about the recent announcement that Cote de Pablo would be leaving "NCIS" and that her character, Ziva David, would get only a one-episode send-off at the start of the upcoming season.
The campaign emails suggested the Cote de Pablo's exit was money-based and that it continued a trend of CBS procedurals undervaluing female talent. [While the former may or may not be true, negotiations with female cast members on "Criminal Minds" certainly give credence to the latter.]
It's unclear if the emails had any impact on the reporting body of the TCA -- "NCIS" is still TV's most watched drama and a show of that stature losing a prominent star is the kind of thing we'd normally inquire about -- but CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves was, indeed, asked about Cote de Pablo on Monday morning.
He was prepared.
"I really want to clarify," Moonves began. "We offered Cote de Pablo a lot of money, and then we offered her even more money because we really didn’t want to lose her. We love her. We think she was she was terrific. And we, obviously, were in discussions. And the rest of the cast and the producers were aware what’s going on. And ultimately she decided she didn’t want to do the show. It was purely her decision. We’re, obviously, getting a lot of emails. There’s a lot of Twitter buzz about her, and rightly so. She’s a wonderful lady."
He concluded, "Look, 'NCIS,' the highest rated show on television last year. We don’t like losing anybody. But we did everything humanly possible. We feel like we exhausted every opportunity, and she just decided she didn’t want to do the show."
More details as they emerge. Or not.