Behind The Scenes: NCIS New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS - CBS's news hit show NCIS: New Orleans is pulling in millions of viewers every episode. It's the top new freshman drama since "Desperate Housewives" in 2004 and the city of New Orleans plays just as much a character as the lead actor. We went behind the scenes in the Big Easy for a sneak peak.
More than 18 million Americans tune in every week for the latest installment of the NCIS franchise -- set in New Orleans.
"We are part of a tradition, an NCIS tradition, and we are trying at the same time to create our own energy," said actor Scott Bakula who plays Dwayne Pride on the show.
Known for larger-than-life stories grounded by the characters dealing with them, this NCIS spinoff is shot entirely on location in New Orleans -- a first for lead actor Scott Bakula.
"We've had a huge gift by being here in New Orleans and having this, people are curious about the city," said Bakula. "It makes sense to have our show here."
One of the hardest parts was getting the accent down. Bakula said he works on it every day.
“It's a very tricky accent because I've been approached by many people who say, thank you so much for not doing an accent, and in my head, I'm thinking, ‘you are doing an accent right now!'" he said.
Bakula's character is based off D'Wayne Swear, former chief of the real New Orleans Naval Criminal Investigative Service office. He remembers getting that first phone call.
"Shock, to be honest," D'Wayne Swear remembers. "I mean, really, I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out and say I was getting punked because I didn't believe it."
Swear is now a technical adviser on the show, making sure things look realistic.
"I give Scott Bakula the bedrock of an agent and his life parallels mine to some degree," said Swear. "And then he just takes it from there. He's done a great job and is very attention to detail about what agents do."
Bakula's team is made up of charismatic agents, like Meredith Brody, played by actress Zoe McLellan. She says the city of New Orleans is like another character on the show.
"I think people love New Orleans," McLellan said. "I think people, I mean if you were to say the top two things, I think people love to tune in and see this city every week and I think there is something about our chemistry."
CCH Pounder plays medical examiner Dr. Loretta Wade. The craziest thing she gets asked?
"Everybody wants to be a dead body, they think it'll be fun and they have no idea how hard it actually really is to look that still, with unfluttering eyes and not breathing," Pounder said.
Wade's office-mate is forensic scientist Sebastian Lund played by Rob Kerkovich.
"What I love most about Sebastian is his general geekiness because it gives me an excuse to do a lot of geeky things in my real life and claim it's research," said Kerkovich.
Filming takes about eight days per episode and the cast and crew work 12-15 hours a day. It's not all glitz and glam-- it's hard work-- and it's paying off big time with ratings.
"There is some really cool little magical glue going on with us," said McLellan.
NCIS New Orleans just got picked up for season two and the cast will start shooting those episodes in July.