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wikiDeeks Attends NCISLA PaleyFest 2017


Tuesday night was far from the first time that I’ve been incredibly thankful to be the only wikiDeeks correspondent based in Los Angeles. I was very lucky to be able to attend the 2017 Paleyfest celebration of NCIS: Los Angeles at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater. If you’re not familiar, The Paley Center for Media hosts an annual festival that features a variety of television shows. Each event includes the airing of an episode followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the show’s cast and creative team. Before I give you the rundown on Tuesday, I should warn you of some potential – but vague – spoilers ahead…

A New Venue

There were a few differences between Tuesday night and the previous NCIS:LA Paleyfest event, which I was also ridiculously lucky enough to attend. In 2015 it was held in a relatively small theater at The Paley Center’s own facility in Beverly Hills. This time we moved to Hollywood, to the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards. I was amazed at how much smaller the theater looked in person, and how much less sparkly. It was actually a little on the drab side- I think they must really do a lot of set decorating for the Oscars. The good thing about the smaller than expected size was that we didn’t lose too much of the wonderfully intimate feel of the first event. They didn’t sell seats in the balconies, so the entire audience was clustered together in front of the stage.

A Jumpstart on the Next Review

Things started off with a screening of the next scheduled episode, “767,” written by Kyle Harimoto. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that again, it was wonderful to watch NCIS:LA on a big screen with an audience full of people. The jokes seemed funnier because everyone laughed together. The action seemed more cinematic because it was shown in such large scale. And I definitely enjoyed the episode, but you’ll have to wait until Sunday to see why. I wish I could say more but I think you’d all misinterpret my comments. Ooh, mysterious- sorry!

Emotional and Hilarious

The cast was introduced, minus Linda Hunt. I didn’t get the feeling she enjoyed herself at the last event, so I wasn’t surprised she skipped it this time. Another difference between the first Paleyfest and this one was the moderator. Last time we had Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier. He skillfully led the cast through a series of questions. This time it was a Los Angeles DJ named Ellen K. It was unclear whether she had ever seen the show, and she had come up with her list of questions by asking fans to tweet them to her. While most of them were quite good, the discussion tended to veer from one topic to another with only occasional follow-up questions from Ellen. The wonderful thing about this cast though, is that they almost don’t need a moderator. You just need to get them started and then sit back and watch them interact. [Everything below is paraphrased from memory, so be sure to watch it when it becomes available on Hulu for the full and accurate version!]

Ellen began with a question to showrunner R. Scott Gemmill about how Season 8 had been going. He talked about the challenges they had faced, both with losing Miguel Ferrer and with Daniela Ruah’s second pregnancy. He talked about the family that is the cast and crew, and how they had experienced losses (Miguel as well as someone from the sound department), but also happiness, with four new babies. But all in all, I got the feeling he was more than ready to move on to Season 9. He described it as being a chance to “reset” things. He said most of the ongoing storylines would be resolved this season. My interpretation was that he was anxious to fully put his vision into reality, maybe implementing some of the plans he had to put on hold due to Daniela’s maternity leave.

She moved on to other random questions, but after a short time, LL Cool J intervened to bring Miguel Ferrer back up. I was so glad he did, because to that point there was an awkwardness to the conversation because they had needed to fully address it in detail right at the start. LL spoke about how tough Miguel was (he called him Miguel Eastwood), and how he worked right up until the end, and was even responding to group email strings until the day he died. LL credited CBS and the showrunners with allowing him to work, and talked about how the way they left his character alive will allow them to work mentions of him into the show from time to time. From this Paleyfest and the last one, I couldn’t have been more impressed with LL. He is bright and funny, and I think a real leader too.

Another question was about Kensi’s recovery storyline, and Daniela Ruah spoke about how she had approached the part by interviewing someone who had experienced the same condition. She talked about she had learned how important it is to ask for help. She said that while strength comes from within, being able to ask others for help is difficult but vital. She actually got choked up while discussing it. She also shared that the sweet scene from “Home Is Where the Heart Is” where Deeks wakes up by Kensi’s hospital bed was written on the fly. They apparently called Scott Gemmill in when they felt things were getting too dark and they wanted to interject some hope into the story, and he drafted the scene on the spot.

Then Renée Felice Smith jumped in and spoke about how much she had enjoyed watching Kensi’s story unfold. She noted the ups and downs of recovery, how it’s not a linear process. Then she started to get choked up too. But leave it to LL and Chris O’Donnell to break up the seriousness. They hilariously started talking to each other about how moved they had been by their various action scenes, hugging one another as if to provide comfort. It was one of the night’s high points.

At some point the three Densi proposals came up, and Eric volunteered that the one with comatose Kensi was his favorite, leading to mocking and jokes from his co-stars.

Later Ellen asked a question about how having kids had changed the way Daniela and Eric approached their work. Daniela talked about how her son had come to work with her every day until he started preschool, and now her daughter comes. She spends a lot of time with the breast pump, whose sound she described in detail. Somehow this launched Chris and LL into another comedy routine, this time with Chris miming breast pumping with LL. You’ll really need to see this because it can’t be described.

Eric then responded to the question in a more serious way, talking about how having children had shown him that the capacity for love is infinite. What a sweet turn from the hijinks.

Mysteries and Hints

Another question was about the contents of The Box. No one seemed excited to talk about it, and someone said that to get an answer they would need to ask Shane Brennan. I didn’t get the feeling anyone was anxious to feature it any time soon; I think they want to leave it in the past. Another little-discussed topic was Anna. No one brought her up except that I think Chris mentioned her in reference to whether Callen would ever be happy.

We also got a number of hints about the end of Season 8. It sounds like there will be a season-ending cliff-hanger and that Densi will be a big part of it. Scott Gemmill talked about how Kensi and Deeks’ lives will change, and I believe he also singled out Sam. When a question was asked about whether we’d see more of Neric this season, Gemmill was less forthcoming, leading me to believe that we may have seen the Season 8 high point of Nericness with last week’s episode. The great news here was that everyone was discussing Season 9 as if it’s a done deal, and as if the whole cast will be continuing, participating in the fresh start Gemmill had described.

Who Said That?

Next a game was launched where everyone received a set of paper cut-outs of the cast members’ faces. Three “superfans” were invited on stage to play along. Ellen read a quote from an episode and everyone had to guess who said it. Some examples were “Sorry you got frelted” (Nell), “What kind of school gives out a hygiene award?” (Eric), and “Haters gonna hate” (Sam and Hetty). The cast tended to struggle to identify the quotes a bit more than at least one of the superfans. But at one point there was a quote about people being jealous of someone’s golden mane, and everyone immediately knew it had been said by Deeks. Eric leapt out of his chair in his complete certainty that he had uttered the line.

Audience Questions

 Questions from the audience followed. This time I wasn’t able to ask a question, so there’s no update on the status of “Deeks, M.” or any other Deeks backstory-related information to share. One person did ask about Monty’s status. Everyone seemed collectively stumped, as if they had forgotten all about him. Eric made a joke about really needing to go home and feed him, and another about how Monty was going to appear as a bad guy in the season finale. There was a lot of laughter and I couldn’t make out exactly how Scott Gemmill responded- it was hard to tell if Monty was too hard to work with, or had health issues, or that maybe he didn’t want to come out and say that Monty was (god forbid!) no longer alive.

Another question was about who had known about the moles’ identities and when they had found out. No one gave a very specific answer, leading me to assume that this had not been a storyline meticulously planned out from Season 5, but rather had been pulled together from the miscellaneous story threads only this season.

Time for Some Selfies

Finally they ended the panel, and the crowd descended towards the stage. The entire cast stuck around for a bit longer than the last time, graciously signing autographs, shaking hands, and posing for pictures. The selfie taking was made slightly awkward by the way the cast was up on the stage and the crowd was below them. Somehow Daniela managed to gracefully sit on the stage in her dress to better interact with everyone.

She and Eric were the last to leave, and they both managed to scoot their way down the length of the stage. It seemed that the majority of people who really wanted an autograph or photo were able to snag one. I managed to swap positions with a woman who was desperate to meet LL, which enabled me to give Eric a little something from wikiDeeks that we hope he’ll enjoy. Then I stepped back and snapped a few more photos. Eric was unfailingly gracious, as people yelled out to him “You’re my mom’s favorite!”and told him how far they had driven (in the Los Angeles rain!). He was particularly adorable when a sweet lady shook his hand and in her excitement almost refused to let it go.

A Great Celebration

Just like last time, I came away appreciating what a real family this group of people is. They are each incredibly talented, but what makes the show special is the chemistry between them all. It’s something that can’t be faked and it was so lovely so witness it in person once again. I know wikiDeeks reader sassyzazzi made the trip, so I hope she’ll share her impressions with us. I only wish you all could have been there.

All photos by Karen P./wikiDeeks. Please give credit.

About Karen P (159 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

18 Comments on wikiDeeks Attends NCISLA PaleyFest 2017

  1. Thanks for the write up. I’m so glad that LL spoke about Miguel. If I miss him so much as a fan, I can only imagine how much the cast and crew miss him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do hope Callen gets happiness, just not with Anna. I think (at least I have) many have seen enough of her these last few seasons, and in S8 of course. Anna is not the field agent type. Wears her hair down when all others pull it back into a ponytail. Shows way too much of her breasts wearing low cut sweaters to work in. She is a seductrice not a field agent in the normal sense. And no one checked out Joelle before Callen & Joelle started dating. Because Anna’s security clearance has not been completed, perhaps Callen should do a background check on Anna. He could end up getting burned twice, poor man.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was there as well, it was seriously magical and the cast was sooo nice. I was actually the fan who asked both those questions about monty and the moles… but it was so awkward i couldn’t hear their responses well, so thanks for writing it out.

    I was so relieved no one brought up Anna for more than a second or started praising her, it was like she wasn’t even a thought during the taping… so i’m hoping that means she will not be a regular next season.
    Overall it seemed like the showrunners acknowledged that they just made the best of some really challenging situations this season, and they are so happy to move on and focus on what was originally intended.. I think next season will far surpass this one. Ps. we’ve officially been renewed for season 9 🙂

    Like

  4. I love seeing the cast together, that chemistry I love is still there (I wasn’t there in person but based on photos, interviews and video clips on social media). It was great that LL talked about Miguel, miss him so much.
    I kind of wished that there wouldn’t be a cliff-hanger (there has been so much drama), but I guess I have to wait and see what happens, I just hope Michelle will not be “Joelled” (that Michelle has something to do with mole situation too).
    If there is a proposal (and I really hope there is), I am hoping for two things: after Kensi finally says yes the scene isn’t interrupted by Whiting coming in and arresting Deeks (or anything else that is “angsty”, I want to be happy for a moment 🙂 ) and i hope the scene focuses on Kensi and Deeks (just the two of them).
    I am really surprised how little they talked about Anna, not sure what to make of it, was that a sign/hint of what will happen?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Anne, I don’t know that we should read too much into the lack of Anna in the discussion, but I think many of us want to take it as a hopeful sign for the future. We’ll see!

      Like

      • Yes, It probably wasn’t any kind of hint and I am “grasping at straws”. It did surprise me though that they didn’t mention how great Callanna romance is and how Anna is the one true love for Callen and Callen’s final chance at happiness/romance. I had prepared myself for hearing them announce that Anna will become part of the main cast, so this was kind of a pleasant surprise for me 🙂

        Like

  5. Thanks for the write-up. So wish they would do something in NYC. I would be there in a hot minute.
    Here’s to hoping they get that Anna is not working. And it’s good to know that there is a disinterest in the box. I personally want to forget about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Karen for your write-up, I enjoyed it so much because you were able to give us an idea of how amazing it was to be there and of the great chemistry there is between all the members of this wonderful cast. You are really lucky!!

    Today I have been overjoyed to get confirmation the show has been officially renewed for Season 9! I am really looking forward to see what the authors have planned for us for the rest of this season, but also to see if they can keep all the promises they have made over the years (Deeks M. episode, I’m talking about you!) next season.

    About this season’s finale I hope it won’t be too angsty, I hope Deeks and Kensi will be left all summer in a good place after all they have been through this year and I hope Sam won’t be hurt too much (I’m afraid, as I have seen many of us are, something bad may happen to Michelle). I have also wondered if something “shocking” in the finale may be regarding Nell’s character or I am reading too much into it (the truth is I have seen her softened body in the latest pictures and also last night – maybe it was the dress, though – and I have started to think her character may need to be written out for some time like it happened to Kensi…). We’ll see.

    One last thing: I have seen a photo of Eric with a fan at Paleyfest somewhere online and immediately noticed there was a “Bringing up Brandel” article next to him on the stage. I thought of you and WikiDeeks at once! Was it your gift?

    Thanks again for your article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cladani. I am really lucky! Really really lucky. And good eyes- we compiled the Bringing Up Brandel articles and fan fics into a magazine format. We thought it was a topic that he’d find interesting.

      Like

  7. Donna Marie // March 23, 2017 at 3:00 PM // Reply

    Can someone let me know where I can watch this online (other than Hulu) as I believe you have to sign up for this site.
    I am glad that Densi will feature in the finale I just hope they don’t mess with them too much. They deserve happiness. I hope Season 9 is better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Donna Marie, I’m not sure where else to find it. It would seem that rather than hosting the videos themselves, The Paley Center is probably getting some reimbursement from Hulu for letting them host it.

      Like

  8. Thanks for the summary, Karen. I’m happy for those of you who were able to attend, and agree I’d be there if they did one in NYC. Kinda bummed it seems we’ll never know what’s in the box, but I’m sure I’ll get over it once we get a Densi engagement. Was there any indication that would actually happen this season? Not too worried about RSG’s comment about the finale affecting Densi’s lives, as I hope that means engaged (or married). But hasn’t Sam been through enough with his family members? I mean, the only one we haven’t seen in danger is Kamran!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sassyzazzi // March 23, 2017 at 4:52 PM // Reply

    Karen, you did a great job on this write up, you captured it really well. The only thing I would add is pretty shallow, ECO looks younger in person and is better looking than on the screen if that is even possible. I am embarrassed to say I stayed until the very end but I did not get an autograph or selfie, because I was so taken by the event that I turned into a 15 year old fangirl getting lots of pictures . At one point he took a picture with the mother of someone who works on the show, and he got in the audience, and I was standing right next to him. Anyway, I had a great time and decided it was really okay to be a fangirl! Thanks again for the complete writeup.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Sassyzazzi, I’m so glad you had a good time and got to see ECO up close. I bet you got some great pictures!

      Like

  10. Thank you so much for the write up. It’s great to get a detailed summary from someone who really loves the show and characters. I would have been there if I could, but it’s tax season and although I tried, I had way too many appointments scheduled and I couldn’t get three days off in a row. Oh, well. I’m still thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to meet the cast and crew in the past, and hope I get a chance again. Thanks again for being the eyes and ears for so many of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Obrigado por colocar em texto como não sei muito de Ingles é a unico modo de saber sobre o que esta passando NCIS LOS ANGELES Obrigado

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rhonda Lara // March 28, 2017 at 4:37 AM // Reply

    Thank You So Much For The Write-Up- Really appreciate the details. Am hoping to attend next year 💗👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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