Melina Kanakaredes Out At ‘CSI: NY’! Sela Ward In?

by | July 12, 2010 at 3:02 PM | Casting News, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, TV News

Melina Kanakaredes, 'CSI: NY' (CBS)

Melina Kanakaredes, 'CSI: NY' (CBS)

File this one under “CS-WHY?”: After six seasons as Stella Bonasera, Melina Kanakaredes is leaving CBS’ ‘CSI: NY.’ And according to at least one outlet, a familiar face is being eyed to replace her.

We hoped Melina would return to ‘CSI: NY’ for another season, but we respect her decision to move on,” reads a joint statement from CBS and CBS Television Studios. “Her amazing talent and invaluable contribution to the success of the series are greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten. She will forever remain a friend to the network and studio and we wish her the very best.”

In her own statement, Kanakaredes shed no further light on the surprising exit, only saying, “I made some amazing and lifelong friendships during my six seasons on ‘CSI: NY,’ and I will treasure them forever!”

Melina Kanakaredes: ‘CSI: NY’ Is ‘Beating Me Up Again!’

When Fancast spoke at length with Kanakaredes toward season’s end, she was high on the show she had called home since its launch. “This year for us has been a turning point, which is lovely,” she said. “[Episodes have been] fun and different and more character-driven…. It’s given everybody an opportunity to have a moment.”

As such, one must wonder if her exit is in somehow related to similar decision-making at other CBS crime shows. In recent weeks, ‘CSI’ has cut loose Liz Vassey, ‘CSI: Miami’ has released Eddie Cibrian, and ‘Criminal Minds’ is cuing up A.J. Cook’s swan song.

Report: ‘CSI’ Takes Liz Vassey Off the Case

Already, Deadline.com hears that TV vet Sela Ward (‘Once & Again’) is in talks to join ‘CSI: NY’ as a new female lead.

As reported by EW.com, it is not yet clear if Melina will return in any capacity to wrap up Stella’s storyline – though as a viewer I’d have to imagine she must, barring any one year “time jump” from the cliffhanging Season 6 finale.

Mr. & Mystery: Did ‘CSI: NY’ Star Wed GH’s Vanessa Marcil?

‘CSI: NY” beings production on its seventh season later this month. The procedural is moving to a new time slot, Fridays at 9/8c, starting this fall.