Category Archives: Insider Blog

NCIS 8×17 “One Last Score” – Insider Blog with Jesse Stern

I was once warned about Michael Weatherly. Lucky for me, I didn’t really understand what the warning meant. The first time I stepped on the set of NCIS was five years ago and there was this creature, this giant ball of energy and laughter and words that might at first appear to be non-sequitors. And he’s running around showing anyone and everyone the video montage he’s made on his phone that recounts his insane, whirlwind, around the world pursuit of a woman he’d just met. All set to a bubbly score. I thought it was nuts. But I watched it. And it made my heart blow up. And I’ll probably never forget it. Especially since a couple summers later I ended up a guest at their wedding. Pretty good little movie.

I watched him work and I wrote for him and saw how he regularly spun gold out of straw and I started to see what inspired him and where he found the music to dance to. Eventually, I felt confident that I could strap a massive weight to his back and he’d do way more than just carry it. I came up with an episode where he would basically be tied to a chair for three days while his character lovingly described every aspect of the tiny world we were living in. We both discovered along the way that there’s not much difference between pretending to tie someone to a chair and actually doing it. But he never lost his smile. Probably because in order to make him look chapped and dehydrated his lips were coated in dried glue.

Since that episode (Season 7’s “Truth or Consequences”) I’ve been excited to find a new challenge we could take on together. When I found out Michael had earned the opportunity to direct an episode, I was thrilled. I think the whole crew was. The thing about Michael is that he’s never oblivious to what’s going on around him. Even when he’s in the midst of one of his wacky, impromptu, verbal tap-dances that usually result either in unmitigated genius or unmitigated disaster, he’s well aware of all the people around him working to set the stage. He knows where the camera is, he knows where the lights are, he knows how his movements and actions affect and influence the workload the crew is carrying. He knows how to make it easier and he knows how to make it better. And they love him because of it. So when it came time for me to get to work on the story that became “One Last Score,” I did something I’ve never done before with a director. I went to him before I’d thought of much of anything.

“How ‘bout something with a heist in it,” I said, during a brief walk from the set to the hair and makeup trailer where the good coffee is kept. “I’m picturing a warehouse filled with crazy expensive collectibles and someone’s trying to rob it.”

He let the idea wash over him for a few seconds and then his eyes lit up in this sort of a mischievous way that he’s got, and he asked, “Can we put the sunglasses Steve McQueen wore in The Thomas Crown Affair in there?”

And I just laughed, “Yeah. I think we have to.”

That was how this story came about. I’d throw things at him in between set-ups, he’d throw things back at me. Then I gathered it all up and tried to piece it together on paper and I gave it back to him again and he ran with it. He asked every question he could. He consulted the opinions of all the great directors he’d worked with here. He learned more in a week than I thought possible. And by day three of that shoot, I’d totally forgotten that it was his first time directing.

There are unique opportunities that arise when a show thrives as long as NCIS has. The lifespan, the growth, it requires you to be cognizant of your roots and conserve the aspects that have made it succeed. But it also asks you to push, to push yourself and the boundaries, to constantly find the new. There’s a wonderful, supportive family here that rallies each day to make that happen, to find something new. I don’t just mean the people we work with every day, I also include the people who watch, who give us the chance to play. So thank you. Thanks for watching. Thanks for caring.

Co-Executive Producer
Jesse Stern
Follow me on Twitter @JesseStern

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NCIS 8×16 “Kill Screen” – Insider Blog

My first shout-out goes to Steven Kriozere. You may have noticed that this script was based on his story. So to paraphrase Isaac Newton, “If you liked this episode, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of a giant.” Figuratively…and literally. Steve K. is like 6’3” or something. But he also wrote a killer outline that was a LOT of fun to produce. We had laser tag, McGee “playing” Gibbs like a video game, and a super smart and beautiful video game savant love-interest (played by the super smart and beautiful, Beth Riesgraf).

My second shout-out goes to Sean Murray. Between getting investigated by a Pentagon computer security guy; dealing with an incredible amount of tech-speak; and having to hit all the emotional beats with Beth, he really rose to the occasion. He wasn’t just in almost every scene…he was carrying almost every scene. And he nailed it, every time.

We shot the sequence where McGee leads Gibbs to the Armageddon/Doomsday computer in the basement of a place called “Crazy Gideons” in downtown Los Angeles. It’s closed now, but the owner, Gideon Kotzer, used to run these commercials in the middle of the night, yelling how crazy his prices were, then being dragged off to a mental institution in a straight-jacket by a cop and busty nurse. All the electronics have since been cleared out and what now remains looks eerily similar to what I’ve been told was the building’s original function: a slaughter house. However spooky that giant basement looked on television, it was 10X in person. It was pitch black, there were corridors leading off in all directions and only small pools of light to see by. I kept expecting some nefarious presence, lurking in the shadows, to start picking us off one by one. Maybe the ghost of some evil cow or something.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed the episode. And thanks for tuning in.

Steve Binder
Co-Executive Producer

Source: CBS

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NCIS Los Angeles – Insider Blog

Editor’s Note: Our Insider will remain anonymous. But he’s definitely on the set daily and will be providing CBS.com with exclusive weekly content. Let’s just say he’s our undercover special agent.

Insider here! Back to field some more questions. There’s one whose answer I’ve been trying to figure out for quite a while. Way back in July, Ebenister asked for a list of all the songs used in our episode entitled “Fame”. Here you go, Ebenister. Happy listening.

“Brighter” by Jez Pike

“Took The Night” by Chelley

“Licky” (Herve Radio Edit) by Larry Tee

“Up In The Club” by Fulford

“Medicine Man” (JK Remix) by Caged Baby

“Shades of California” (Quadra Beat) by Salme Dahlstrom

“Gucci Sweatshirt” by Lazer Sword

Next up, Invisible357 asks what kind of backpacks Kensi and Deeks are wearing in their scene riding dirtbikes through the desert. They’re both wearing the Oakley AP Backpack 3.0. It’s really cool. I’m looking at one as I write this and its got tons of compartments, plenty metal buckles and handles, padded backing and straps, and best of all it looks cool when it gets all worn and dirty.

Speaking of Kensi and Deeks, NCISLArocks asks if the two will ever “get together”. First off, I love the name. And if by “get together” you mean “become romantically involved”, I honestly don’t know the answer to that one. If there is one, it’s hidden deep in the minds of our writers. I can, however, tell you there will be some pretty intense (romantic?) moments in the episodes to come. If this sounds cagey, then good. I don’t want to spoil what’s coming for anyone, but it’s BIG. If you want to know what I’m talking about, you’ll have to tune in so KEEP COMING BACK!

Source: CBS

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