Moonves said Monday that De Pablo really wanted to leave the show, and turned down "a lot of money" to stay.
"I really want to clarify -- 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," he said.
We love her. We think 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. Look, 'NCIS' was 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.
De Pablo will appear in NCIS' 11th season to wrap up her character's storyline.
"I've had eight great years with NCIS and Ziva David," the actress said in a statement about her decision. "I have huge respect and affection for Mark [Harmon], Gary, Michael [Weatherly], David, Rocky [Carroll], Pauley [Perrette], Brian [Dietzen], Sean [Murray], all of the team and CBS. I look forward to finishing Ziva's story."
"NCIS" fans have taken their outrage to social media in the days following De Pablo's announcement.
Perrette, who plays Abby Sciuto on the show, said she'd received plenty of angry comments.
"Cote's my friend! Love her. You guys writing mean things to ME (?) I'M SAD SHE LEFT TOO! I didn't want her to leave! SAD!," she tweeted recently.
"She left. We are all still here. We love her. We love you. She left. We love you and are working hard to make you happy."
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