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Harmon: ‘NCIS’ Success Due to Camaraderie

hollywoodexclusive1While dozens of series stars and producers are lamenting dwindling audience numbers in these time of fragmenting viewership, Mark Harmon's "NCIS" has managed the seemingly impossible feat of increasing its audience numbers — by more than 10 million from its first season to its current seventh season to date — to become the most-watched scripted show on broadcast TV. Harmon is duly appreciative — and quick to spread the credit around.

He feels the growth in the show's popularity is due in large part to the camaraderie shared by those who bring it to the tube, and says he's never seen a group who gets along so well with one another. Also, he says, there are a lot of laughs.

"You've got to have a thick skin to work here. This is a group who likes to have fun."

And work hard. There was a time, he says, when the series necessitated his putting in workdays of up to 19 hours. Eventually, he helped get those hours lowered. He says with a laugh that his wife (Pam Dawber) teased him, "My husband is the only actor who gets excited about now putting in 14-hour work days."

Far from tiring of "NCIS" after putting in more than six years, the nice-guy actor tells us he even enjoys making his daily trek out to the set. "With other jobs, I didn't look forward to the drive to work," he says, "but now I just want to get there and spend time with a production I like so much and a crew I am so fond of."

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Sexy 25-year-old Katharine McPhee admits the intensity of her career isn't always easy on her 21-month-old marriage to actor-producer Nick Cokas — aka the man who got her to try out for "American Idol." But then, "Marriage is definitely not easy. I've never met anyone who said marriage was easy.

"He actually travels with me," adds the singer, who's been on a radio promo tour for her "Had it All" and "Say Goodbye" singles and upcoming "Unbroken" album. "I actually like him as well as love him; he's my best friend so it's great to have him around." As far as whether her hubby, who's nearly two decades older than she, ever gets jealous of all the male attention coming her way, the singer answers in the negative. "He's the most non-jealous type I've ever met. I say, 'OK, you can get a little jealous,' but he doesn't."

A stunning brunette, McPhee now looks amazing as a blond, and hot indeed in her "Had It All" video. "I'm having a blast," she says of experimenting with her look. "As a kid, I always loved trying out different things with my makeup and hair. I haven't been very daring on the hair side before. I never dyed it. I wanted to do something like this now before I'm too old and it's too late."

McPhee's album, on Verve Forecast, is due in January, and she will be going out on tour in support of it. Once she wraps her current radio rounds, she says she and Cokas (not hard on the eyes himself) will be spending comparatively quiet holiday time together. "Since next year looks like it's going to be busy, I'll try to get as much rest as possible."

WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES...: Kim Raver says she didn't have to think twice about coming aboard "Grey's Anatomy" as heart surgeon Dr. Teddy Altman — not only because she's a fan of the show, but also because she'd worked with creator Shonda Rhimes before and "I trusted her completely." Their prior collaboration was on a pilot called "Inside the Box," about Washington, D.C.-based broadcasters. "I played an on-camera journalist, really a great character — a smart go-getter. I really thought it was a terrific pilot, seeing behind the scenes in this newsroom, following these stories and how they get them on the air," she says. "It's hard, sometimes; you try not to get attached, but you do. The cast, the writers — everyone's giving it 100 percent of their best effort and then some. And then, when it doesn't get the go-ahead, you can't help feeling disappointed."

The former "24" and "Lipstick Jungle" actress has found she loves Teddy (a possible threat to the relationship of Sandra Oh's and Kevin McKidd's characters) at least as much, however. And the "Grey's" team. "My first day, people on the set kept talking about how cold it was and I said, 'Cold? I can't help sweating.' They all understood how I felt, though, and they were welcoming, which really helped my nerves," she says. "Sandra — I think she is such a generous actress, and she's so funny. I'm lucky to be with her and Kevin and the show gang."

BEWITCHING: With a production start slated for later this month, casting of subsidiary roles is being completed for the Ashley Tisdale-Meg Ryan "Sleepless Beauty" Warner Bros. movie. It has "High School Musical" cutie Tisdale as a gal about to suffer the cruel fate of a really nasty insomnia spell cast to take effect on her 18th birthday by a bad femme named Katrinka. That's Ryan's role, the Wicked Witch of the West Side, this tale being told in contemporary New York. But shooting is set to start in Grand Rapids, Mich. No word yet on a handsome prince or facsimile thereof.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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