ncis

Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs with Gary Cole as FBI Special Agent Alden Parker

Photo credit: Michael Yarish/CBS
By David Hochman

There's a new supervisor at NCIS, and if you can get him those TPS reports ASAP, that’d be greaaat.

Gary Cole, the veteran actor best known for his iconic roles in The Brady Bunch Movie, Talladega Nights, and, yes, Office Space, as mediocre manager Bill Lumbergh, enters the “big orange room” of the longest-running series currently on CBS as head honcho Alden Parker. Joining one of the most popular shows on television sounds as unnerving as encountering a fresh stiff on a cold steel table, but Cole, 65, is the consummate pro.

Trained onstage at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, he’s played a drug lord in Pineapple Express, a S.W.A.T. commander on Psych, and earned an Emmy nod as numbers cruncher Kent Davison on Veep. What’s a few more serial killers, right?

Photography by Shayan Asgharnia and styled by Ashley Zohar.

Watch NCIS on Mondays at 9 PM, ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

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You’re known mainly as a comedy guy. Is there some sort of basic training program to topline a procedural drama like NCIS?

Actors Mark Harmon and Gary Cole lean against an SUV in a scene from NCIS.

Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs with Gary Cole as FBI Special Agent Alden Parker

Photo credit: Michael Yarish/CBS

GC: Honestly, it’s called being a working actor for 40 years. There’s no difference between comedy and drama for me. If you’re unprepared in either or try too hard in either, you’re done.

Whatever character I’m playing, it’s always the same: You find a hook that brings you into the world you’re creating, you get comfortable, and hope people connect.

What’s your hook with NCIS Special Agent Parker?

NCIS cast members look surprised as they take cover in a wooded area.

NCIS cast members Brian Dietzen, Katrina Law, Sean Murray, Wilmer Valderrama, and Gary Cole

Photo credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

GC: He’s trying to fit in. He’s trying to prove himself. He’s a problem solver. I can relate to all that in this situation.

What’s nice is the producers and writers go out of their way to personalize the character for you. There’s a kind of NCIS character bible, and they try to match some of my traits and backstory with Parker’s. Oh, you’re from Chicago? Great. Next thing I know, Parker’s from Chicago, too. You can really lean into those details for consistency and comfort.

Were you a fan of the show before joining the cast?

The cast members of NCIS stand in a bullpen looking at a TV monitor.

NCIS cast members Sean Murray, Wilmer Valderrama, Gary Cole, Rocky Carroll, and Katrina Law

Photo Credit: Bill Inoshita/CBS

GC: NCIS is a pretty hard show to miss. It’s always on somewhere. So I watched it whenever I caught it. But you get immersed quickly in an environment like this.

You’ve got people on the crew who’ve been with the show since day one in 2003, and not only NCIS but JAG before that. When you’re surrounded by that kind of institutional knowledge, somebody’s always got an answer if you need something.

Procedurals are famous for rapid-fire dialogue with loads of lingo. Any trouble remembering you have to give a SitRep to the SecNav?

Gary Cole stands behind a heavily reflected glass door wearing a gray suit jacket and white shirt.

Gary Cole in a suit by Ted Baker, shirt by Bourrienne Paris X, and belt by Anderson’s

Photo credit: Shayan Asgharnia

GC: The trick isn’t memorization as much as staying human with it. You’re carrying an enormous amount of exposition, with facts and clues and shifting details. You try to incorporate these mouthfuls into real behavior so you’re not sounding like a robot reciting a crawl that’s running along the bottom of the screen.

I take pride in making Parker sound like he knows what he’s talking about while also behaving, you know, normally. It can be a challenge, especially when we’re in the squad room and there are four people hammering out complicated dialogue. But it works. There’s a reason the show’s been going for 19 years.

Is it true one of your first roles involved being chased by another legend of procedurals, William Petersen?

A closeup view of Gary Cole peeking through a slit in a wooden fence

Gary Cole gives the camera a piercing look.

Photo credit: Shayan Asgharnia

GC: Yes! This was many, many years before he did CSI, when I had a tiny part in To Live and Die in L.A. I don’t recall if my character lived or died in the movie, but I remember almost dying from how much running I had to do that day.

Was that before or after you were an extra in “The Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld?

Gary Cole reclines on a lush patio wearing a striped shirt and a cream-colored suit.

Gary Cole in a blazer by L.B.M. 1911, T-shirt by J.Crew, trousers by Nanushka, socks by London Sock Company, and shoes by Magnanni

Photo credit: Shayan Asgharnia

GC: Well, it would have been before, but that’s one of those ridiculous internet myths. I think there’s a guy who looks a little like me in one of the scenes, but unless I blacked out, I was never anywhere near the Seinfeld set for that episode. Once the internet hits on something, it sticks.

So maybe we can set the record straight: I will admit I did make an appearance on an old soap opera called One Life to Live. I think technically it was the first time I was on camera. I played an ex-convict who had information about one of the lead characters. But I think that footage has been lost to history.

Office Space still connects with audiences more than 20 years after its release. Any thoughts on how that movie would be different in the COVID-19 era?

Gary Cole leans against a black wooden wall wearing a gray and black plaid suit.

Gary Cole in a suit by Officine Générale and polo by Raey

Photo credit: Shayan Asgharnia

GC: They’d all be on Zoom now, I imagine. So it would look more like a Very Brady Office Space, you might say. Those Bradys were decades ahead of their time with the faces-on-the-screen thing.

By the way, who’s the dog in these photos with you?

Gary Cole smiles as he holds his toy Australian shepherd, Shadow.

Gary Cole in a blazer by Ted Baker, sweater by Buck Mason, and trousers by Theory, holding his dog Shadow

Photo credit: Shayan Asgharnia

GC: Oh, that’s Shadow. He’s a toy Australian shepherd. Although he’s pretty chill now, it took a long time for him to settle down. Those dogs are very, very intelligent and need a task at all times. Australian shepherds are smarter than some people I’ve met.

Other dogs stare at you with this vacant look that says, “Where’s the food?” But with Shadow, you know he’s aware of everything in the room. If I do this, I’ll get my food. If I do that, they’ll let me outside. You almost expect him to start typing something on the computer.

You mentioned that the NCIS team likes to personalize your character. Any chance Shadow will make an appearance?

Gary Cole wears a slate gray suit as he stands in front of a wooden wall on a patio.

Gary Cole in a suit by Sandro, polo by Theory, and shoes by Viberg

Photo credit: Shayan Asgharnia

GC: You’d have to ask him. He’s probably on the phone with his agent.

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Watch NCIS on Mondays at 9 PM, ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Vanessa Lachey with her family.

"For a natural-born party planner like me, this is the season of small get-togethers and big celebrations.” — Vanessa Lachey

Getty Images / iStockPhoto; Courtesy: Justin Coit (2)

Vanessa Lachey, in her own words:

Winter is magical. But let’s be real here–it can also be crazy stressful. It’s cold; the kids are on break from school; you have to figure out what gifts to give your in-laws and bosses and what you’re going to do for the kids’ teachers. It’s no wonder we start counting down the days until spring break while it’s still freezing outside.

Despite the stress, winter is also a season of warmth and reflection. It’s pine-scented candles and chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. It’s twinkling lights and cozy pajamas. It’s binge-watching your favorite holiday movies and spending quality time with the people you love. It’s eating warm chicken tetrazzini (one of my winter favorites and, coincidentally, the meal I ate before each of my kids’ births) and enjoying a cozy cocktail.

I continue a few of the traditions that began during my childhood, but most of our winter traditions were started by Nick [Lachey] and me as a way to remember what matters most in life: connection, closeness, and comfort food—not necessarily in that order! For a natural-born party planner like me, this is a season of small get-togethers and big celebrations. Even if you would rather spend cozy nights at home with the family, I hope this inspires you and helps make your season more magical and memorable in ways large and small.

Lachey's book, Life from Scratch, is available here: lifefromscratchbook.com

NCIS: Hawai'i airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and streams on Paramount+.

Lachey Lasagna

Close up image of a lasagna

Excerpted from Life from Scratch by Vanessa Lachey. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2021.

Getty Images / iStockPhoto; Courtesy: Justin Coit (2)

Lachey Lasagna
During any season, this recipe is always a crowd-pleaser, but it’s an especially good way to warm up after a cold winter day. Bonus: You can save the leftover sauce to make another dish later.


INGREDIENTS

1 lb. Sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 lb. Lean ground turkey (I use the 1-pound Jennie-O packs) 1⁄2cup chopped or minced white onion
2 Garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 28-oz. Can crushed tomatoes
1 12-oz. Can tomato paste
1 15-oz. Can tomato sauce
1⁄2 Cup water
2 tbsp. Granulated sugar
1 1⁄2 tsp. Dried basil
1⁄2 tsp. Fennel seeds
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. Salt, plus more as needed
1⁄2 tsp. Ground black pepper
4 tbsp. Chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
12 Lasagna noodles (more or fewer to taste)
1 15-oz. Tub ricotta cheese
1 Egg
3⁄4 lb. Pre-sliced low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided
3⁄4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese, divided


MAKING IT FROM SCRATCH

In a large, dry Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up into a crumble as you go. When it’s almost brown, add the ground turkey. When the meat is fully cooked, add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent. Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. Add the water and mix well. Next, add the sugar, basil, fennel, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Simmer, covered, for 90 minutes (or more). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Then drain the noodles and rinse under cold water. At this point, I lay them out on a cookie sheet so I can easily grab them as I’m assembling. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta with the egg. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley and salt to taste.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 1⁄2 cups of the meat sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Place half the noodles on top of the sauce in an overlapping layer. (I use six of them in this step.) Spread with half the ricotta cheese mixture. Then top with half the mozzarella cheese slices in an even layer (cut the slices to fit if you have to). Next, add another 1 1⁄2 cups of the meat sauce, then sprinkle with 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan. Repeat the layers, starting with the noodles, then the ricotta mixture, then the mozzarella. Top with 1 1⁄2 cups sauce and the remaining 1⁄2 cup Parmesan cheese. If you have sauce left over, save it for another use. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, then bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Life from Scratch book cover picturing Vanessa Lachey seated on a wooden swing

Excerpted from Life from Scratch by Vanessa Lachey. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2021.

SUBSCRIBE NOW: Enjoy 4 Digital Plus 2 Print/Digital Issues Of Watch Per Year — For Free!

NCIS: Hawai'i airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and streams on Paramount+.

NCIS Special Agent DiNozzo partners with the NCIS: Los Angeles team to search the city after his prisoner escapes custody on a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles

Photo: Neil Jacobs/CBS

By Nate Millado

The NCIS universe has expanded in the past 18 years—most recently with NCIS: Hawaii—and it's been a blast watching our favorite agents get to play in the same sandbox! These crossover events have treated fans to some pretty epic episodes and inspired pairings. Here's a look back at a few of our faves.

Watch NCIS on Mondays at 9 PM, ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Watch NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Stream NCIS: New Orleans episodes on Paramount+.

"Legend" and "Legend: Pt. II" (NCIS)

LL COOL J shouts into his phone while holding a bloodied and unconscious Chris O'Donnell

Sam (LL COOL J, left) rushes to Callen's (Chris O'Donnell, right) side after he is shot by an unknown gunman.

Photo: Danny Feld/CBS

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) heads to the City of Angels and teams up with his counterparts at the NCIS Office of Special Projects to investigate the death of a Marine—only to uncover a terrorist cell rooted somewhere in downtown L.A. This NCIS two-parter introduced us to the dynamic duo of Sam Hanna (LL COOL J) and G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell). This pair would go on to headline the first NCIS spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles.

"Random On Purpose" (NCIS: Los Angeles)

Pauley Perrette and Eric Beal having a drink

Abby (guest star Pauley Perrette) drops by NCIS: Los Angeles. Here with Eric Beal (Barrett Foa).

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS.

After a Naval engineer is murdered, Abby (Pauley Perrette) notices a pattern linking this case to others—so she heads to Los Angeles to warn the team of the Phantom serial killer.

"Crescent City Pt. I" and "Crescent City: Pt. II" (NCIS/NCIS: New Orleans)

Mark Harmon and Scott Bakula lean on a wrought iron railing in New Orleans

Gibbs (Mark Harmon, left) and NCIS Special Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride (Scott Bakula, right) chase leads in New Orleans after evidence points to a copycat killer.

Photo: Skip Bolen/CBS

Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and NCIS Special Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride (Scott Bakula, right) are on the tail of a copycat of the infamous Privileged Killer in New Orleans, while Pride's NCIS: New Orleans team heads to Washington, D.C. to investigate potential political connections to the case.

"Blame It On Rio" (NCIS: Los Angeles)

Eric Christian Olsen with Bobby Lee and Michael Weatherly holding guns in a warehouse

NCIS Special Agent DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) partners with the NCIS: Los Angeles team to search the city after his prisoner escapes custody on a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles

Photo: Neil Jacobs/CBS

D.C.-based agent DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) partners with the L.A. team to search the city after his prisoner escapes custody on a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles. DiNozzo and Marty Deeks hilariously try to one-up each other throughout the episode, proving exactly why NCIS fans love these crossovers!

"Sister City, Parts I and II" (NCIS/NCIS: New Orleans)

\u200bMichael Weatherly in a raincoat over a jacket and tie next to Pauley Perrette in a polka dot coat holding a black umbrella

Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perrette

Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS

After the passengers and crew of a private plane traveling from New Orleans to Washington D.C. are lethally poisoned, all signs point to the missing chef—Abby's brother, Luca (Tyler Ritter). Gibbs and the D.C. team work with Pride and the New Orleans crew to locate Luca and determine why a private tech company was targeted.

"Pandora's Box, Parts I and II" (NCIS/NCIS: New Orleans)

Scott Bakula stands next to Vanessa Ferlito and Wilmer Valderrama in a brick building

In this two-part crossover event, the NCIS gang teams up to track a stolen terror playbook. Pictured: Scott Bakula as Special Agent Dwayne Pride, Vanessa Ferlito as FBI Special Agent Tammy Gregorio, and Wilmer Valderrama as NCIS Special Agent Nick Torres.

Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/CBS.

Crossovers are always a rollicking good time, and this Mardi Gras–themed conclusion to an NCIS two-parter is no exception! NCIS agents McGee (Sean Murray) and Torres (Wilson Valderrama) travel to New Orleans to partner with Pride and his team in the search for a missing homeland security theoretical terror playbook.

Watch NCIS on Mondays at 9 PM, ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Watch NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Stream NCIS: New Orleans episodes on Paramount+.

Gibbs with his trusty notepad and pen.
Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS

NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) lives by an extensive list of guidelines, appropriately called "Gibbs' Rules." Rule No. 11? "When the job is done, walk away." And that's exactly what happened at the end of the Oct. 11 episode of NCIS, "Great Wide Open."

After 18 seasons, Harmon ended his impressive run as a series regular—as his onscreen counterpart gave up his badge to stick around in Alaska indefinitely. But fans of the long-running procedural need not fret. In a statement about the series star's departure, NCIS EP/showrunner Steve Binder had this to say regarding Harmon's future: "As longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the years … never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out."

So, how well do you know Gibbs? Take our quiz and find out!

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