On Feb. 3, 2014, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news that actor Scott Bakula has been tapped to be the “Big Easy’s” version of NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the anxiously anticipated new spinoff of "NCIS," CBS-TV’s number one prime-time drama.
Bakula will portray "NCIS Special Agent Pride, who embodies New Orleans. He's driven by the need to do what's right and does it all with warmth, passion, strength and humor." Quite the antithesis of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and certainly nothing like Henrietta (Hetty) Lange, to say the least.
The good news is that some of the scenes for this new show, could actually be shot in Houston, because the newly created NCIS New Orleans office is to have territory that spans Pensacola, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Texas television viewers are devoted to their "NCIS," so there’s a better than even chance this spinoff will be received positively. The program will debut as a two-part episode of "NCIS" that will air later this spring. First, Team Gibbs has to take care of that villain, Benham Parsa, who's behind many acts claiming the lives of valued NCIS and government officials.
This is the third spinoff to come from the original “NCIS,” created by Donald Bellisario and Don McGill. Last season, a pilot for a mobile team of secret agents, “NCIS: Red” featured John Corbett and Kim Raver as part of the team that could be dispatched anywhere around the country when needed. Despite the solid popularity of “NCIS,” which has just completed filming on its 250th episode, plus the solid appeal of the original spinoff, “NCIS: LA,” starring Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, Linda Hunt, Daniela Ruah, and Eric Christian Olson; still, “Red” just didn’t achieve that instant connectivity with viewers who watched the launch episode during “NCIS” Season 10.
Lesley Goldberg reports that this NCIS New Orleans show is backed by successful showrunner Gary Glasberg and Mark Harmon, star and Executive Producer of “NCIS.” It’s more than poignant that Scott Bakula was picked to star because even though Donald Bellisario is no longer affiliated with the “NCIS” franchise he co-created, the irony is that Bellisario created, produced and wrote the series “Quantum Leap,” which starred, you guessed it: Scott Bakula.
In fact, Bakula even won a Golden Globe award for his role on the show. So, the true spirit and essence of Bellisario is in the “NCIS New Orleans” spinoff, even if it was only an accident. Bellasario’s stepson, Sean Harland Murray, also continues to play Agent Timothy McGee on “NCIS,” so there’s that.
And since Bellisario also created “JAG,” from which the original “NCIS” was the spinoff program, his imprimateur will forever be connected with the new “NCIS New Orleans,” even if he has nothing to do with the show. Bellisario and the current “NCIS” team parted ways several years ago. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to have to do but special circumstances surrounded the situation, and it’s just too much business than any viewer even cares to know about or deal with anyway.
Faithful viewers of eleven seasons’ worth of “NCIS” episodes know that the character Abby Sciuto, played by actress Pauley Perrette, is from New Orleans, just as Perrette is a native. Just as she’s made guest appearances on “NCIS: LA” when Agency Director Leon Vance called her in to consult with Hetty’s team, you can almost be sure that if the show is picked up, Abby will jump at every chance to assist.
Not to worry, though. It’s highly doubtful that she’d ever leave the main show, though, as every one of the major characters—Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, David McCallum and Pauley Perrette—always refer to themselves as the “Core Four,” in multiple interviews through the years. They do so because they are the original cast members who've been there all eleven seasons so far. Particularly as Harmon is one of the Executive Producers of both shows, he’s not about to fix what’s not broken with a character permanently transferring out of the Navy Yard. No one would want to watch with Gibbs separated from his Abbs. No way. You just don't replace the Core Four.
Stay tuned, Houston, the film crews from “NCIS New Orleans” might just be coming your way. Hopefully, for a full season of filming.