Chris Meloni, Law and Order SVU, Ice T

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Law & Order: SVU star Ice-T is going to be a little lonely next season.

Nearly a week after news broke that Mariska Hargitay is cutting back on her screen time, it was announced yesterday that Christopher Meloni is walking away from the hit NBC show after 12 years of crime fighting.

So what does Ice think of Meloni's unexpected departure from the series?

"I was surprised," Ice exclusively told us earlier today while promoting his new E! reality show Ice Loves Coco (premiering June 12 at 10:30 p.m.). "We all negotiate separately... I'm not somebody who's dying to leave the show, but at the end of the day you still have to sit down with the execs and hammer it out. So I guess with Chris, it didn't go his way. I'm sad though. Me and Chris have been together a long time."

But it's not like Ice is calling Meloni ungrateful.

"You gotta understand, when you're No. 1 or on those shows you have no life," he says. "I mean, they're working 14 hours a day. They're not being greedy. It's really hard."

A rep for Meloni did not give a reason for the actor's departure from the show, only saying it was "time for the next chapter."

As for reports that former show guest star Jennifer Love Hewitt is in talks to join SVU as a regular, the former rapper doesn't know if it's true but says, "I wouldn't diss Jennifer Love Hewitt. I think she's a great actress."

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