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CSI: NY Star: "I Wanted to Leave"

Tough-talking detective Aiden Burn was abruptly fired on the Oct. 5 episode of CBS' CSI: NY. But was the lady cop's portrayer, original cast member Vanessa Ferlito, unexpectedly ousted as well? TVGuide.com asked the 26-year-old, Brooklyn-born and -raised actress for the skinny behind her exit . TVGuide com: Sorry that you're leaving CSI: NY.Vanessa Ferlito: No, it's a good thing. But it's sad if you watch the show, I guess. TVGuide.com: CBS wanted some big changes in CSI: NY this season. Were you one of those changes?Ferlito: Oh, no! I was the one who wanted to leave. TVGuide.com: Why? Were you unhappy with the direction of your character?Ferlito: I had no intention of doing an hour TV show. I had just wrapped the movie

Ileane Rudolph

Tough-talking detective Aiden Burn was abruptly fired on the Oct. 5 episode of CBS' CSI: NY. But was the lady cop's portrayer, original cast member Vanessa Ferlito, unexpectedly ousted as well? TVGuide.com asked the 26-year-old, Brooklyn-born and -raised actress for the skinny behind her exit .

TVGuide com: Sorry that you're leaving CSI: NY.
Vanessa Ferlito:
No, it's a good thing. But it's sad if you watch the show, I guess.

TVGuide.com: CBS wanted some big changes in CSI: NY this season. Were you one of those changes?
Ferlito:
Oh, no! I was the one who wanted to leave.

TVGuide.com: Why? Were you unhappy with the direction of your character?
Ferlito:
I had no intention of doing an hour TV show. I had just wrapped the movie Man of the House with Tommy Lee Jones, so it's not like I had nothing going on. But it was CSI:NY! You don't say no to that. I have no regrets. It was a great experience and everybody was very good to me, but — and I know it sounds crazy — I really wanted to be home in New York. I wanted to still do movies and theater. That's why I got into this business in the first place.

TVGuide.com: Is there a boyfriend waiting for you in New York?
Ferlito:
Yeah, I have a boyfriend in New York.

TVGuide.com: Ahhh....
Ferlito:
But it's not only the boyfriend. I tried my best, and it was my decision to go.

TVGuide.com: How did [series cocreator] Anthony Zuiker take it?
Ferlito:
I had my manager and agent break the [news]. I really love and admire Anthony. I don't want to say it went over so smoothly, but after they told him, I called him personally. I'm not good with drama, but he handled it so well. Anthony was always very good to me, and in return, I gave him my all. So when I told him how I really felt — that I wanted to be back in New York, that I didn't want to be away from my family and my friends — he got it. 

TVGuide.com: Some might think this is a risky choice. It's a CSI and, even if it's not the highest-rated one, it's giving up a paycheck that could have been steady for a lot of years.
Ferlito:
Yeah. But for me, it wasn't about that. You have to be happy. To stay in it for any other reason than that is denying yourself and your life, and I don't want to do that. I could die tomorrow!

TVGuide.com: You must feel pretty confident about your ability to get good work.
Ferlito:
Obviously, I was confident enough to come from where I come from in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and pursue this career. Nothing's changed. If I got CSI, I'll get more.

TVGuide.com: You're not leaving with plans to do another TV series, are you?
Ferlito:
No, no, no, no. I have no plans on doing that anytime soon. 

TVGuide.com: You did do 24 the year before.
Ferlito:
I had a great time doing 24, but I left that show as well; I didn't have a permanent contract. So what happened was we shot two episodes and I got [Man of the House]. When I let them know, they asked me to stay on the show, but I left and took the movie. But it worked out, because I had time to finish some more [24] episodes. I did 12, and then they wound up getting rid of the whole [Season 3] cast anyway. 

TVGuide.com: Are you worried that you'll get a reputation as a quitter?
Ferlito:
No. Because [the situation with] 24 was different. They knew that I'd get a movie, [but] they took their chances. I could have turned down the movie and then got killed in the next episode. So that was a no-brainer. As far as CSI, this was my first show as a regular, and I left. But as far as my reputation, it's all in how you carry yourself. And even if I did leave on bad terms, I would never speak badly about them.

TVGuide.com: Your character arc on 24 ended in a spectacular way. Bam! A bullet hole in the head. Are you satisfied with the way Aiden exited CSI: NY, being fired for almost-evidence tampering?
Ferlito:
[Laughs] I had no idea what was coming. I knew that they couldn't shoot me or kill me, because when Rory left CSI: Miami [a year ago], they shot him. It was sort of ironic in a way because they "fire me" after I resign. Are they trying to tell me something? 

TVGuide.com: Would you rather have gone out with a great death scene?
Ferlito:
I feel they kept it kind of open, because I'm not dead. I have such a great relationship still with CBS and with Anthony that if he ever asked me to come back while I was in the middle of doing something else, then [I would]. [Zuiker tells TV Guide.com that Ferlito is "a really talented and sweet woman who I think I'll work with in the future."]

TVGuide.com: What's coming up for you?
Ferlito:
I have a movie coming out called Shadowboxer, opposite Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding [Jr.]. It's such a good film.

TVGuide.com: Is it a dark movie?
Ferlito:
Yes, very dark. Stephen Dorff plays my husband, who hires Helen and Cuba to kill me. But when they come, they're in for a surprise! It's so twisted. I also just finished a movie called Gridiron Gang with the Rock, a true story about boys in jail. I play a teacher, and we filmed it at a real jail in Malibu. So I'd go in to the classrooms and talk to the boys — and they just sent me this lovely note, thanking me for inspiring them. 

TVGuide.com: So what will make Vanessa Ferlito happy?
Ferlito:
I want to stay in New York, so if I could do theater and a movie a year, I'd be a happy camper.

For an inside look at even more big changes ahead for CSI: NY, watch for the new TV Guide hitting newsstands Thursday.