SEAN'S INTERVIEW IN "NET.TV"
(Internet interview - Photo and text)
It's Tuesday, Nov. 15, in warehouses converted into soundstages in Santa Clarita, Calif, and Sean Murray of CBS' Tuesday-night hit "NCIS" is working on his birthday.
"It's no problem," he says. "I like to work a lot."
At this point, Murray, who plays NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) Special Agent Timothy "Probie" McGee, is also less than two weeks out from getting married, so the biggest challenge of the day is not finding time to cut the birthday cake, but coping with the stunning guest stars for this particular episode.
Airing Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. ET, "Model Behavior" is a take-off on UPN's hit reality show "America's Next Top Model," as it sees the NCIS team investigating the death of a competitor in a show called "Boot Camp Babes," being shot on the Marine base at Quantico.
"I'm a big fan of 'America's Next Top Model,'" Murray reveals. "My gal got me into it. She's a big fan of the reality TV. Now Janice Dickinson is not on it, so I don't want to watch it anymore. She was the sole reason I was watching."
Murray is shooting a scene with co-star Michael Weatherly, who plays womanizing Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, in which they question a contestant (cover girl Mini Anden, host of the Swedish fashion show "Top Model") about the murder victim.
Considering he's talking to a model, Tony is doing a fair job of reining in his wolfish tendencies. But in another scene, his penchant for making himself the center of attention is on full display.
It happens when Tony substitutes for his boss, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), who has failed to show up to accept an award. Everyone else is on hand, including NCIS Director Jenny Shepard (new regular Lauren Holly) and forensics specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette).
"Tony tries to take the award in Gibbs' stead," Weatherly recalls, "so he tries to make a speech to everybody. DiNozzo is hogging the microphone and going for the spotlight. He gets cut off by the director, and everyone walks out of the room. Abby gives him a hug, because Abby understands that he's just lonely."
Weatherly even did a little preparation of his own to ensure just the right reaction to DiNozzo's antics.
"There were 10 or 15 background actors," he says. "So right before we did the first take, I apologized to them as a group for smelling as bad as I do, and I don't wear underwear, and I have this flatulence problem -- all these things. All these background artists, who have not probably seen the show, are like, 'Who's this idiot?'
"So when we started rolling on the scene, all those expressions are there, and the camera is picking up all these people. There's something wonderful about being the most irritating person in the world."
But, assures Murray, "Michael's nothing like DiNozzo. I've been with Michael off-set, and he's a great, compassionate guy. He's fantastic."
Currently in its third season, "NCIS" has had unprecedented success this year, scoring 18.17 million viewers for its Nov. 29 episode. Created by Don Bellisario ("JAG," "Quantum Leap," "Magnum P.I."), it blends the elements of a forensic crime procedural with a level of humor and whimsy not seen until "Bones" premiered this season on Fox (ironically, in the same time slot as "NCIS").
"It's an eight o'clock show," Weatherly says. "It has its serious moments, like a Very Special Episode of 'Three's Company.' But there's a lightness to it that makes it a little more palatable. And we're not neurotic in the sense that there's not a lot of navel-gazing or politically correct stuff. Boy, that can get really boring.
"The first season, people were so entirely confused by what we were doing that people just reviewed it from a critical standpoint of, 'This isn't "JAG." This isn't even taking itself seriously. What are these people doing? These plots are strange, like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." They're like "The Outer Limits," with these crazy twists and turns.'
"The great thing that Don does is that he can, in the midst of all that absurdity, inject this pathos and melodrama. I remember reading reviews of 'Bones' when it came out, that were saying, 'Finally, a procedural that doesn't take itself seriously,' or, 'Finally, a show with wit.' I was like, 'Hey!'"