Ready for some good Southern cooking and jazz? Maybe a murder or two, as well?
It’s time to head to Louisiana for the new NCIS spinoff, NCIS: New Orleans, which launches tonight with Scott Bakula heading the team in the Big Easy. We got a taste of the cast in the backdoor pilot from NCIS Season 11 and, while the show will crossover with the mothership at some point, this is no carbon copy.
While we recently talked to showrunner Gary Glasberg about NCIS Season 12, it was time to shift gears with him and find out more about NCIS: New Orleans Season 1. Let’s grab some Intel and find out more.
TV Fanatic: Scott Bakula has talked about how New Orleans is a lot different and smaller than DC so how does that impact your storytelling in this show?
Gary Glasberg: It’s not so much about the types of stories we’re doing because we’re still doing murders and fraud and all the things that NCIS does. Really what it comes down to and one of the big eye openers is that I’m not talking about a headquarters. We’re dealing with a field office and we’re not dealing with multiple floors of agents and forensic techs and all the people involved.
One of the tricky things even when we’re filming is you’ve got this more self-contained office that doesn’t have this endless assortment of manpower coming through it and it inherently feels quieter but trying to maintain an energy and a momentum and a flow become something that visually you’re much more conscious of. You’ve got people coming and going and moving and activity in the office and unlike the Washington show where I have this barrage of agents that are constantly moving in the background, in this instance it’s our team and that’s all that’s there. So it’s little things and those all add up and it’s just a different flavor and a different type of environment.
TVF: Where did the name Pride came for Bakula’s character?
GG: That was around since the early conceptual days of the spinoff episode. I was just looking for something similar to Gibbs that was brief and memorable and in this instance felt connected to community, and one of the things that I immediately sort of was aware of was how people connect to their own community in New Orleans, so Pride made sense to me.
TVF: What kind of leader is Pride? We saw some of him in the episodes of NCIS last season but what kind of leader will we see him be? I’m guessing different than Gibbs.
GG: Scott has a real sort of emotional accessibility to him and he brings that to this character and so he wears his emotions on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to let people know exactly how he’s feeling and that’s very different from Gibbs. He does that with his team and it’s the way that, as you say, the way that he leads, and sometimes he might let his emotions get the better of him and that’s okay, too. It’s a very different style of agenting and yet they’re both really good at what they do and extremely accomplished but I think in some ways he might lead with his heart a little bit more.
TVF: How does that influence his personal life? He has his estranged wife, I know.
GG: Yeah. His wife, Linda, and he are very much trying to kind of work things through. They’re separated at the moment and he is actually living in a room in the field ops and that plays a part in the stories that are coming out. They’re trying to patch things up and work things out and the pressure of what he’s going through there definitely is dealt with in the story lines and that carries all the way through to meeting his college-aged daughter as well.
TVF: Tell me just a little bit about the supporting cast. How much of their personal lives do we see?
GG: In sort of classic NCIS fashion, we’ll probably start off with a focus on cases and the workplace and what happens in the field office and then little by little you’ll get to know who they are and go home with them and get to know them more personally. Hopefully down the road we’ll get into origins stories and do all the things that we’ve come to do on NCIS.
You certainly get to know Pride pretty quick and understand his backstory and his personal life but I think with all of them you’re going to hear tidbits. You’re going to hear bits and pieces of where LaSalle comes from and his connection to Alabama and his family and Brody coming from the Midwest and why she has moved to New Orleans.
And you’ve got CCH Pounder’s character, Wade, who comes from New Mexico originally by way of Harvard and medical school and ended up down there, and then Rob Kerkovich plays Sebastian, our lab tech, who is from down there but has this sort of extensive training and background. So it’s an interesting mix and you’ll get to know all about all of them.
TVF: I know crossovers will happen but what would you say is the number one rule for a crossover?
GG: From a storytelling standpoint for me the rule is that it has to feel grounded and organic. So if it makes sense to see Director Vance chime in and tell the team about a case then we’ve reached out to Rocky Carroll. If it makes sense to the story that Tony is involved for some reason because of something in his background then we’ve used Tony. That goes for Abby and her connection to Sebastian in the lab.
Every crossover appearance at the end of the day hopefully is being driven by a story need, and I think we’ve been pretty good at staying true to that. It’s really not so much…we’re not coming at it from the standpoint of just wanting to see NCIS characters. It’s really about having them appear for a reason.
TVF: Will we get any NCIS: LA people on the show or is that something that’s a whole different beast to play with?
GG: Not right now, but we’ll have to see what comes of it and it’s been a lot of fun just having the people crossover that we’ve managed to get so far.
NCIS: New Orleans premieres Tuesday September 23, right after NCIS Season 12 Episode 1.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.