As first hinted at and then ultimately scooped this Saturday by TVGuide.com's Ausiello Report, NCIS creator Donald P. Bellisario is stepping down as show-runner, this on the heels of reports of on-set clashes between him and series star Mark Harmon. Bellisario's duties will likely be assumed by coexecutive producer Chas Floyd Johnson and head writer Shane Brennan. In a statement, CBS Paramount president David Stapf hails Bellisario, who sired NCIS predecessor JAG, for building not only "a top-rated show but a great producing team that provides terrific continuity for the years ahead."
The tense NCIS standoff between Mark Harmon and Don Bellisario that I first told you about two weeks ago has ended as dramatically as it began: Sources confirm that the veteran producer has agreed to step down as showrunner, effective immediately. I hear he'll likely be replaced by co-executive producer (and longtime Bellisario collaborator) Chas. Floyd Johnson and headwriter Shane Brennan. As NCIS' creator, Bellisario will still retain his executive producer title (much like AS-P did on Gilmore Girls), but he is no longer in charge of the show. He's not leaving CBS, however. (Lucky them!) He'll develop two new projects as part of his overall deal with the network.As I reported, insiders say Harmon has been frustrated for some time with the long hours that resulted from Bellisario's "chaotic management style." And in mid-April, things came to a boil."Mark's been working every single day, 16 hours a day," the mole told me. "Don tries to micro-manage everything. Script pages get faxed...