‘NCIS‘ Jimmy Palmer might not have grabbed much screen time in the CBS hit’s season premiere, but this Tuesday at 8/7c, viewers will get to see Ducky’s right-hand man fear for the worst when the office gets “invaded” by a group of strangers. Brian Dietzen shared with us a look at Jimmy’s upcoming adventures, explains why he’s the cast member no one wants to work with, and reveals the one thing ‘NCIS’ will not do to fend off ‘Glee.’
We didn’t get to see too much of you in the season premiere, but I trust you’re here to tell me that’s about to change.
That is correct, sir. Absolutely. The season premiere was awesome, but when you’re dealing with a Mexican drug cartel, there isn’t a whole lotta room for the assistant medical examiner. Which is fine. [Laughs]
Mark Harmon himself said last spring that your amount of screen time was something he wanted to see “straightened out” this season.
Yeah, he said that in a TV Guide article where we were sitting at a roundtable. I was sitting there thinking, “Yeah, keep talking!” [Executive producer] Gary Glasberg says, “There will be a lot more Jimmy goodness,” and that’s reflected in the first few shows. I’m in five out of the first six, starting with this week’s episode.
That’s the one with guest star William Devane (‘Knots Landing’), right?
Yes. Steve Binder wrote it and I absolutely loved the script. It involved the kidnapping of a young girl, which has anger-fueled ties for Gibbs, whose daughter died at a young age. I can’t wait to see Harmon go through it and see what he does. In addition to that, Jimmy Palmer gets to have his own kind of worst nightmare as well. There are a bunch of interns that NCIS hired from local colleges, and one of them ends up inadvertently threatening Jimmy’s position. That sends Jimmy into a bit of a tailspin.
What must it be like having the likes of William Devane, Robert Wagner and Michael Nouri walk the ‘NCIS’ halls?
It’s really cool. I mean, we’re sitting here with television and film legends. Everybody is certainly appreciative of it, but I never lose sight of the fact that my No. 1 scene partner is one of the biggest TV legends out there, David McCallum. To work with that guy every day puts me in an enviable position. I didn’t watch ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ when I was young – it was before my time – but since I started on the show I went and rented ‘The Great Escape ‘and more of his work.… That guy has got a story for everything he has worked on. He’s similar to Ducky in that way.
What about the Oct. 5 episode guest-starring Abby Brammel (‘The Unit’) as a bomb tech suspected of murder – is Jimmy up to anything there?
That one is called “Short Fuse” and Abby did a fantastic job – from what I saw. Unfortunately, I generally only get to work with [guest stars] when they die.
You’re the cast member no one wants to work with!
If you work with me, there’s a good guarantee you’re not going to be recurring, buddy. [Laughs] Yeah, in that one Jimmy and Ducky have good autopsy stuff and some fun at the crime scene as well.
When I was prepping for this interview, I found a video of you and Sean Murray (“McGee”) at E3 this summer. What’s the coolest thing you saw there?
Some PlayStation stuff came out using 3-D technology. I played Kill Zone 3, in 3-D, and that was pretty awesome.
Do you play games during your downtime on the set?
No, for the most part, everybody pretty much just hangs out on the set. Neither David nor I ever go into our trailers. That’s a cool reflection on our cast, because no one wants to sit in their trailer waiting to get called.
Is it right that you do some singing?
Yeah, I just finished a movie last month called ‘Karaoke Man,’ where I sang onstage in a superhero outfit. [Laughs] It was something that James Denton from ‘Desperate Housewives’ got together with some of his friends to produce.
So, since Michael Weatherly sings too, what are the odds we get a Jimmy-Tony jam session one day?
We were talking about this the other day. Cote De Pablo‘s got an amazing Broadway voice, Pauley Perrette has a band called Stop Making Friends, Michael is one of the most talented individuals I ever met, David McCallum worked in the opera for many, many years and his father was a very famous musician…. Between all of these people, I think we should be able to have, like, a band maybe? Or…
‘NCIS: The Musical Episode.’
Someone said that the other day at a fan event. I thought, if we did that last year, maybe. But now that we’re up against ‘Glee,’ it’d look like we’re trying too hard!