EW's TV scooper has the details on a ''NCIS'' spin-off, ''The Shield'' finale, and more

By Michael Ausiello
November 28, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

CBS eyes NCIS spin-off for next fall
No-brainer alert: NCIS‘ odds-defying ratings uptick this season has prompted CBS to quietly begin developing a spin-off. Although a spokesperson for the hit procedural declined to comment, industry sources confirm that a new crop of naval sleuths will likely be introduced in an episode of NCIS later this season and launched into their own show as early as next fall. ”It’s still in the early stages,” maintains an insider, who says no final decisions have been made about the premise or the setting. Casting will be key, suggests one producer at a rival network. ”Mark Harmon’s personality is the central strength of NCIS,” says the exec. ”There’s only a handful of available actors out there who can provide that type of center to a show.” Whoever ends up headlining, you can be sure he (or she) will be closer in age to Mark Wahlberg than to Mark Harmon. ”That’s NCIS‘ one weak spot,” the suit points out. ”It gets huge overall numbers, but a low concentration of young viewers.” I guess that would rule out Gerald McRaney in NCIS: Boca Raton.

Fringe Casting
One of the Fringe benefits of a full-season order? More characters to play with! To wit, the Fox spooker has tapped Ari Graynor — who won raves for her work as party girl Caroline in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist — to play the younger sis of Anna Torv’s Olivia. Her three-episode arc kicks off in January.

Shield Burning Questions
As amazing as The Shield‘s shocking series finale was last week, it left us wanting some answers. Luckily, series creator Shawn Ryan gave us a little postmortem. Warning: Do not read if you have yet to watch the finale. Massive spoilers below.

Q: Why didn’t Julien come out of the closet in the finale?
A: In the timeline of our story — the entire run of The Shield takes place over about three years — it felt like he would still be in denial.

Q: Did you want us to think Dutch might have killed Rita?
A: I never felt like Dutch was that far off the deep end. But we joked about how, in the finale, Dutch would come home and unlock some padlock on a door leading to a basement and there would be a bunch of kids chained to the wall.

Q: I understand Shane committing suicide, but did he have to take wife Mara and son Jackson with him?
A: To us, it made sense. It wasn’t fun to write. But in terms of the overall arc of the show, it felt like the place it should go.

Q: At the end, Vic left his desk job with his gun. Where was he racing off to?
A: We’ve always viewed Vic as a shark. He’s someone who, in order to survive, has to move forward. Is he going to search for his kids? Is he going to pursue his own sort of police work on his own time? Is he going to do something postal? I don’t know. But I do think the shark swims forward.