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'NCIS' Tries for a Spin-Off -- Again

The popular franchise isn’t calling it quits on its ability to birth new shows

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CBS hasn’t given up on its quest to extend its successful NCIS franchise. The spin-off of a spin-off (remember, kids? The Mark Harmon starrer was an offshoot of the 1995-2005 hit JAG) will feature a backdoor pilot in the spring that focuses on an NCIS office in New Orleans. “As I figure out what our next season is going to be, I like to look [at] NCIS offices all over. The one in New Orleans has a rich background, and it’s so quirky and different,” explains NCIS executive producer Gary Glasberg. “Its territory is from Florida around the panhandle to Texas. It’s surrounded by Marine and Navy bases, but [the area] also functions as a magnet for military personnel on leave. It’s a place to go and have fun…and get in trouble.” Here’s the most intriguing part: Harmon, who was outspoken about his opposition to the creation of NCIS: Los Angeles in 2009, will help exec-produce this second NCIS spin-off attempt in less than a year. (The last was NCIS: Red, which was developed this past spring for star John Corbett but failed to earn a pickup for fall.) “We have such a unique relationship and work really well together,” Glasberg says of himself and Harmon, insisting that CBS didn’t push him for a spin-off. “This was just about reacting to the richness of what [Harmon and I] were discussing, and honestly we couldn’t stop talking about it.” Though the project is still in the planning stages, Glasberg already has a promise for the franchise’s fans: He won’t let the new show affect his role overseeing the mothership (“It’s very important to the network and very important to me”). He also hopes viewers will remember that spin-offs can work. “My first job was with James Brooks, who did Mary Tyler Moore, which helped to spin off Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant,” Glasberg says. “It doesn’t scare me as long as it’s about characters people want to spend time with.”