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CBS is plotting yet another expansion of one of its massive global franchises.
The broadcast network is nearing a straight-to-series order for a Hawaii-set incarnation of its juggernaut NCIS franchise, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. CBS declined comment as deals are still being firmed up.
Chris Silber, the showrunner on NCIS: New Orleans who cut his teeth on the flagship series starring Mark Harmon, would serve in the same capacity on NCIS: Hawaii. Jan Nash (NCIS: New Orleans) and Matt Bosack (CBS’ SEAL Team) are also attached to exec produce the drama from CBS Studios.
Sources note that the potential series would likely shoot in Hawaii, where production is facing an easier path forward during the pandemic. NCIS: Hawaii is currently meeting with potential pilot directors and has begun staffing a writers room.
Hawaii would be the fourth series in the NCIS franchise. The flagship is awaiting word on season 19 and, per sources, could be nearing its end as leading man Harmon’s deal is up this season. Sources say when Harmon heard CBS would end the flagship series if he left, the star and exec producer began conversations with the network and producers CBS Studios to return for a handful of episodes if the procedural was to return for a 19th season.
Harmon, who originated his character of special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on JAG before being spun off to lead NCIS, has helped grow the franchise to spinoffs NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. The latter two series awaiting word on their 13th and eighth seasons, respectively, on CBS. Harmon exec produces NCIS: New Orleans. He is not involved in NCIS: L.A. The flagship NCIS is the longest-running show on CBS — and its most expensive. It also ranks as the most watched series on television, with more than 15 million total viewers. NCIS is also the No. 1 global TV series in the world, having been syndicated both domestically and internationally, where it is licensed in more than 200 countries and territories.
NCIS: Hawaii arrives as CBS is also plotting a return of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. A new limited series from creator Anthony Zuiker and Jerry Bruckheimer is nearing a series order at CBS with original stars William Petersen and Jorja Fox attached to reprise their roles.
As for the timing, a return to CSI and another NCIS series would immediately spark interest in the franchise’s library, which would be a boon for CBS All Access. The platform is being rebranded in early March as Paramount+ in a bid to broaden its reach and harness the brands of ViacomCBS. (Paramount+ heavily promoted the brands available on the service with multiple ads during Sunday’s Super Bowl on CBS.) NCIS and CSI are among the company’s most valued IP. In success, the new CSI and NCIS incarnation would ultimately end up streaming on Paramount+ as well should ViacomCBS look to keep the new jewel in its crown franchise.
New spinoffs of existing franchises offer the opportunity to create new streaming deals. The lucrative pacts could also bring with it exclusivity for the franchise, which would be a boon to streamers like Paramount+ at a time when rights for older series are tied up with years-old deals at competitors. The flagship NCIS, for example, is on Netflix and CBS All Access.
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