‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ Creator Reveals Role Mark Harmon Played in His Return to Franchise After Being Fired

by Suzanne Halliburton

Chris Silber, the “NCIS: Hawai’i” showrunner, has been a part of the franchise almost since the beginning when CBS brought viewers the story about Naval Crime investigators.

But there was a time when Silber wanted no part of NCIS. This was back when he was a story editor for the original series before it began a string of spinoffs. Silber helped create the episodes from 2005-07. Then he said NCIS creator Don Bellisario fired him. The reason? Bellisario said Silber didn’t understand the show. Ouch. But then Mark Harmon, who as Gibbs is the face of the franchise, got Bellisario terminated. He reportedly didn’t like Bellisario’s management style, believing it to be too chaotic. CBS went with the star in front of the camera.

So that brings us back to Silber. The NCIS: Hawai’i showrunner came back to NCIS for the 2013-14 season. For context, this is the post-Cote de Pablo era. So there was no Ziva, a fan favorite. Silber produced 40 episodes, then made the jump to NCIS: New Orleans. And he also created NCIS: Hawai’i, which premiered last September.

NCIS: Hawai’i showrunner Chris Silber talks about his show with fellow cast members at Paley Fest earlier this year. (Francis Specker/CBS ©2022)

In an interview with the Screaming into the Hollywood Abyss podcast, he talked about his first NCIS stint, calling it a “horrible place to work,”

“Every day you wondered if it was going to be your last day,” Silber said. “Every single day.”

But there were a number of reasons to make a comeback, namely the people on the show who worked in front of the camera and behind it.

“The reason why I was able to go back and go back with the right attitude, was A, time, because it was many years later,” Silber said, “all things equal, when I came back.

“Another reason why I was able to go back and not have that sort of bitterness or cynicism or chip on my shoulder, is because every single other human being who works on that show and continues to work on that show, they are the kindest, most wonderful people.”

NCIS: Hawai’i, starring Vanessa Lachey, was most popular first-year show on any network this season. (CBS)

That includes Harmon. Gibbs even got his name dropped on “NCIS: Hawai’i” this season.

“All the other writers, everyone in production and of course Mark Harmon and credit where credit is due, Mark Harmon was a big reason why I came back,” Silber said. “He was a big fan and he said to me he felt responsible to a certain extent for not realizing what was going on in the writers’ room while he was trying to survive being on set. … And it was very important to him to have other people, not just me, to have me back.”

NCIS: Hawai’i enjoyed a banner rookie year. It was the most-watched first-year show on any network, nudging past fellow CBS series “FBI: International.”