‘NCIS’ Takes on Two ‘Idols’ in One Night

by | January 12, 2010 at 2:29 AM | NCIS, Show & Tell, TV News

Robert Wagner and Michael Weatherly of 'NCIS' (CBS)

Robert Wagner and Michael Weatherly of 'NCIS' (CBS)

Perched at the top of the ratings now in its seventh season, ‘NCIS‘ is a throwback to old-school TV: smart, dependable and steeped in quality. Just like tonight’s guest star.

Robert Wagner may be 79 years old, but he’s every bit as dashing as when he played irresistible cat burglar Alexander Mundy in the 1968 TV classic ‘It Takes a Thief.’ Jonathan Hart was pretty suave too.

So it’s easy to see why the cast was smitten with Wagner, who plays Tony’s father, Anthony DiNozzo Sr., on the show’s 150th episode, as I learned after chatting with both the DiNozzos Friday night.

“I have sort of a throbbing man crush on R.J. Wagner … my wife is a little jealous,” Michael Weatherly gushed about his TV dad. “Pauley Perrette [who plays Abby] actually said, ‘Michael you have to act with him, not stare at him.’ We’d do a scene, and I’d be … there with my jaw dropped.”

And no wonder: getting the ‘Hart to Hart’ star on the show turned out to be a case of kismet.

“What’s strangely fascinating is when I first booked ‘NCIS,’ I was shooting the Natalie Wood story [in 2004]–playing a young Robert Wagner,” Weatherly revealed. “So I was stunned when I learned he would come on the show. And then vaguely uncomfortable … because I thought maybe he would hate me.”

His character may have some daddy issues, but it’s nothing but love between Weatherly and Wagner, who do bare a striking resemblance.

“I was thrilled, I never had a better time,” Wagner says of working on the show. “They came to me–Michael wanted me to play his dad–and I thought it was great, I loved it.”

In the special episode, Tony Sr. is linked to the team’s investigation of an assassination attempt on a foreign prince, which leads Junior to some dirt on dear old dad.

“He finds out a lot of aspects about me he hadn’t known before,” Wagner teases, “that are revealing about his character — and help reveal a lot about Mark Harmon’s character [Gibbs]. There’s a revealing moment that’s pretty significant.”

And I’ll let you in on another family secret: ‘NCIS’ isn’t done with papa DiNozzo. “Yes, I’ll be back,” Wagner told me when I asked about future appearances, “I just don’t know when.”

From one TV idol to another, ‘NCIS’ takes on a major force when it faces the new season of ‘American Idol,’ also premiering Tuesday night.

“What’s that?,” joked Weatherly. “I don’t watch reality shows, or things that charge people to text, but good luck to them.”

“All I can say is … I wouldn’t want to be the show that goes up against Robert Wagner,” he adds with a wink, before dashing off to pose for the photo above with his TV pop.

The ‘NCIS’ Cast Gives an Inside Look at Their 150th Episode Below: