If you're seeking a metaphor for acting, you couldn't do much better than the body-jumping premise of Quantum Leap. In the 21 years since that series went off the air, its star, Scott Bakula, has leaped into a striking array of characters, with an initial emphasis on more sci-fi (Star Trek: Enterprise) eventually offset by a turn toward naturalistic dramedy (Men of a Certain Age). But playing a cop on a network procedural? Inexplicably, that seemingly inevitable move had proven a leap too far.
This oversight has finally been rectified with Bakula's role as the lead in NCIS: New Orleans, premiering on CBS Sept. 23 in the coveted Tuesday time slot immediately following the franchise's flagship series...
Ralph Waite, Mark Harmon
There won't be any loose ends or jangled nerves at the close of May 13's finale, which honors the late actor Ralph Waite and sends his character, Jackson Gibbs, to his final resting place.
Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah
It may not be safe to entrust Eric Christian Olsen with spoilers. "I'm off to go get killed," he says, picking himself up from a shaded picnic table and heading back out into a Southern California winter heat wave...
Michael Weatherly and Mark Harmon
On a nearly 100-degree day in Los Angeles, drought-stricken Griffith Park stands in for Baltimore in the fall. The NCIS cast members on hand are sweating it, since they're all wearing their agency jackets. Michael Weatherly (aka Tony DiNozzo) has it the worst, since he has to sprint up and down hills after a suspect.
In the next setup, he's standing over a corpse, trying not to drip sweat on the poor actor who's playing dead. "Can a dead body get a sunburn?" he ad-libs. The line stays in. After the cameras stop, Weatherly compliments his other scene partner on his deadpan reaction. "I love it when I say that and look up at you," he tells Mark Harmon (Leroy Jethro Gibbs). "Nobody does that slow burn like you."
Gibbs will be...
Goodbye, Tiva. Hello, NOLA! This spring, watch for a two-part sweeps episode of NCIS that will also function as a pilot for NCIS: New Orleans. If the CBS drama is given the go-ahead, it could be on the air as soon as next fall. Mark Harmon is set to be one of the new show's executive producers, which may surprise anyone who remembers that he wasn't crazy about the idea of NCIS: Los Angeles four years ago. What convinced him that a spinoff wouldn't dilute the mother show?
Cote de Pablo
NCIS fans have long memories. They fondly recall the scene back in Season 4 when Ziva David, then still a visiting Mossad agent, announced to Tony DiNozzo, "I will kill you 18 different ways with this paper clip." So when the woman who so engagingly played Ziva for eight seasons, Cote de Pablo, announced she was leaving the series, grief-stricken devotees sent paper clips to CBS in protest. But even that couldn't keep Ziva attached.
NCIS: Los Angeles
"There's often the question, 'Why would you do a third one?'" NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles executive producer Shane Brennan admits of the franchise's next spinoff, which will launch as a two-part "embedded pilot" on NCIS: LA March 19 and 26. "'How would it be different?'"
Michael Weatherly and Dr. Phil McGraw
On NCIS, Tony DiNozzo is always getting his head slapped, but does he need to have it shrunk, too? Michael Weatherly has created a couple of surreal YouTube clips in which the raffish agent is confronted by Dr. Phil at the behest of concerned buddy Jimmy Palmer — based, he says, on...
"This is all just a setup," says Pauley Perrette, walking into the NCIS writers' room north of Los Angeles. Michael Weatherly fatalistically adds: "This is where we all..." Brian Dietzen finishes the thought: "...meet our end."
Not bloody likely. Sure, the series did off a couple major characters in the first five seasons (RIP, Lauren Holly's Jenny), and some significant recurring characters have met their makers in the five years since (Mike Franks, we hardly knew ye!). But the chances of any of these eight diehards going down anytime before the show ends its run are about the same as the odds of Gibbs cracking a sustained smile.
Speaking of which: When we gathered all eight regular cast members of TV's No. 1 drama for a historic summit, their fearless leader, Mark Harmon, was largely the quiet man out. When his colleagues finally called him on his reticence, he swore he was having too good a time listening to everyone else's banter. As you read this unprecedented full-cast gabfest, you'll know exactly what he means.