PaleyFest celebrated “NCIS”, “NCIS: Los Angeles”, and “NCIS: Hawai’i”
As one of the first festivals focused on the television industry, PaleyFest has for 39 years been presenting cutting-edge programs and connecting TV fans with the stars of their favorite shows. This year, PaleyFest celebrated NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and newcomer NCIS: Hawai’i with their cast and creatives at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
The title is only four letters long. And yet NCIS represents one of the greatest successes in the history of television. To celebrate the 20th season of NCIS, the actors of the series came to greet their fans at PaleyFest. It was an event marked by the absence of the star of the show, Mark Harmon, whose recent departure was discussed by many of his co-stars.
“Filming the episode where Mark’s character says goodbye was kind of amazing and emotional,” says Sean Murray who plays Timothy McGee in the show. “But there is always a chance that you can see Gibbs in the future”. Brian Dietzen, who plays Jimmy Palmer, feels the same. “It was huge for us to say goodbye to Gibbs,” he says. “I think that obviously, with the foundation that we built at NCIS, if Mark Harmon wanted to come back and come play with us in the playground he helped build, we would be very happy to have him again.”
Meanwhile, for Rocky Carroll, who plays Leon Vance, Mark has never really left the show. “It didn’t feel like a goodbye. He’s still an executive producer on the show, and his presence is still there.”
Called the “little brother” of NCIS, and having seen the light of day in 2009, NCIS: Los Angeles continues to attract many viewers. The duo formed by Chris O’Donnell (G. Callen) and LL Cool J (Sam Hanna) continues to sparkle. If for Chris, “it feels good to be part of this show,” for LL Cool J, NCIS: Los Angeles is a “family affair.” The same goes for actress Daniela Ruah who plays Kensi Blye in the show. “My kids were born on the show, both of them,” she says. “I was on the show, and they came to work with me from six weeks onward because Scott, our producer, really did provide the perfect environment and story plots to allow me to do that. And so, the kids were with me for two and a half years of their life until they went to preschool. River, my son, had not been to Paramount for a while… This was right before COVID, and I brought him to work one day, and we drove in, and he goes, ‘Mommy, we’re home.’ I almost started crying.”
Executive Producer of the show R. Scott Gemmil thinks one of the reasons for the success of the show is also the location. “We try really hard the last few years to find all the iconic locations. And so, we’re always trying to make LA as much a character as anyone else on the show. Whether it’s at the beach or Bel Air, really trying to showcase what LA has to offer to the audience.”
This year, the PaleyFest salutes the NCIS Universe with the newcomer: NCIS: Hawai’i. “We’re so lucky to be the fourth install of this amazing franchise and bring NCIS to paradise,” says executive producer, Matt Bosack. “We also knew that if we were bringing NCIS to paradise, we had to bring some of the other characters to paradise as well. And so, a discussion early on about how do we crossover.”
The heroine of the new series is none other than Vanessa Lachey, who plays the role of Jane Tennant. “She’s a badass with a warm heart,” explains Vanessa. “The thing that gets my blood flowing is not only this amazing team in the show – it goes without saying, guys, this is my family, everybody here is my family, because they’re literally stuck with me on a rock in the middle of the ocean. But she protects her team in her work environment, and she leads with power, strength, and with confidence… And the beauty of the NCIS franchise and all of you fans out there is that you’ve allowed us to continue evolving the franchise. And I believe that NCIS Hawai’i is able to evolve into a more family-based, personal story, team-based show because of you.”
The success of the NCIS franchise is not ready to stop. And for proof, the producers are already preparing next year’s NCIS in…Sydney!