Melina Kanakaredes leaving 'CSI: NY'

Actress has been on CBS crime drama since 2004

"CSI: NY" star Melina Kanakaredes is exiting the hit series.

Kanakaredes has been a lead character on the crime drama since it first launched in 2004.

"We hoped Melina would return to 'CSI: NY' for another season, but we respect her decision to move on," said CBS Television Network and CBS Television Studios in a joint statement. "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."

Sources say Kanakaredes' contract was up and she was ready to move on. Former "Once and Again" lead Sela Ward is being considered as a replacement.

"I made some amazing and lifelong friendships during my six seasons on CSI: NY," Kanakaredes said in a statement, "and I will treasure them forever!"

"CSI: NY" begins production on its seventh season on July 28. The series is shifting to a new time period, Fridays at 9 p.m.
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