“NCIS: New Orleans” will feature crossovers with the original series, the executive producers confirmed at the show’s Television Critics Assn. summer press tour panel Thursday.
Plans are already in place for Mark Harmon’s Gibbs to make an appearance in an upcoming episode of the spinoff. “We have a storyline where Michael Weatherly is involved, where Pauley Perrette is involved, David McCallum. That’s the fun of what we have here is having that interaction. As to how often and when it happens … there’s a lot that goes into the planning of that with schedules and making sure that Mark is here and focused on ‘NCIS.’ But we’ll keep the balls in the air and make it work as best we can,” said Gary Glasberg, who serves as an executive producer along with Harmon and Jeffrey Lieber.
“The worlds of the two shows exist in the same place,” Lieber noted. “There’s a lot of cross-pollination of just the world, the places, the people, the history of 259 episodes of the show that come before us. So we are our own thing, but we exist very much in the same universe, which is really cool.”
Actor Rob Kerkovich has also joined the cast as forensic scientist Sebastian Lund, who will be working in the Jefferson Parish morgue alongside CCH Pounder’s character Dr. Wade. “He’s a terrific talent, and I think we’ll have a lot of fun,” said Glasberg.
Glasberg revealed that the show’s inception can be traced back to a conversation between himself and Harmon back in 2013. “This came about a year ago when Mark Harmon and I sat down… I usually sit down with him, and we talk about ideas for the coming season, and setting a couple of episodes in New Orleans was the idea for some sweeps episodes, and Mr. Harmon turned to me and said, ‘Gary, those aren’t the sweeps episodes. That’s a series.’ And one thing followed another, and the next thing we knew, we were making episodes and finding these terrific actors, and I’m writing scripts over Christmas, and here we are. It’s been an extraordinary ride and very, very excited to have a show that’s set against this wonderfully rich backdrop of music and culture and people and all the things that New Orleans has to offer. And then for us to do the kinds of stories that we do — humor, heart, pathos, mystery — to be able to do that in New Orleans, to shoot in New Orleans is a great thing. And we started prep on our first episode just a few days ago. ‘NCIS’ is already shooting. We start shooting ‘New Orleans’ a week from yesterday.”
Harmon added, “When Gary talks about storylines, he doesn’t actually do that very often with me, so I pay attention when he does… We all knew about the New Orleans office. We know more about NCIS as an agency than I did 11 years ago or 12 years ago. So the fact that there was this office that offered this location and the excitement that Gary had and the idea of doing — which we do sometimes on the show — we’ll do a two episode arc, a three episode arc, and him talking about having interest in really highlighting this office, as we talked about it, it was just so blaringly obvious that there was a lot more in here than two hours.”
On the differences between “New Orleans” and the original series, Glasberg noted, “The one thing that will really vary is that Washington handles bigger, large-scope international instances, but that’s not to say that they don’t encounter stories like that down there as well, and then have to call on Washington for input… [But] their jurisdiction literally goes from Pensacola all the way around the Gulf to Texas. So it’s not just specific to New Orleans, it spreads out all over.”
“It’s really about the DNA of the city and the whole Gulf Coast… every story we start to break, you feel that come in,” Lieber said. “So the mysteries are infused with a kind of culture and soul, which is not to say anything about ‘NCIS,’ but you feel the city in every beat and starting to inform the characters as well… [And] as evidenced from the pilot episodes, whereas Washington has all the resources, this office is three, four people really making the best of the interjurisdictional nature of the world down there — it’s New Orleans Police, it’s the Coast Guard.”
“NCIS: New Orleans,” a planted spin-off, features Scott Bakula as the head of a dedicated team of Navy investigators in the Big Easy. With its rich setting of music, drinking and debauchery, New Orleans is a magnet for military personnel on leave. And with fun comes trouble, which is when this team is at its best. Pounder, Lucas Black and Zoe McLellan also star.