EW Staff
September 10, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When Melina Kanakaredes announced in July that she’d be leaving CSI: NY, exec producer Pam Veasey and her staff had already written six episodes featuring Kanakaredes’ Stella. ”It was tough, but at the same time, that kind of surprise does wonderful things [creatively],” says Veasey. Enter Jo Danville (Once and Again‘s Sela Ward), who joins the team after Stella relocates to New Orleans. What do we know about Jo? ”Think of a very confident, professional Southern woman who kicks her shoes off Friday night and spends time with her family,” says Veasey. Early on, Jo & Co. investigate a murder on the webcam site Chatroulette, and Mac (Gary Sinise) confronts a former gang leader (guest star Edward James Olmos) in East Harlem. As for season 6’s cliff-hanger — in which serial killer Shane (Edward Furlong) seemingly took a shot at Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) — Veasey has good news: ”No one on our team died.” SEPT. 24

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