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LOS ANGELES • St. Louis' Scott Bakula is the newest member of the "NCIS" family, but he has a familiar mentor. Mark Harmon, who stars as Gibbs in the original, is an executive producer on spinoff "NCIS: New Orleans."

That the new series exists at all is due to Harmon, executive producer Gary Glasberg told TV critics meeting in Los Angeles.

Glasberg and Harmon were brainstorming "NCIS" episodes a year ago, "and setting a couple of episodes in New Orleans was the idea for some sweeps episodes," Glasberg said. But Harmon countered that "those aren’t the sweeps episodes. That’s a series.”

Bakula and his team were introduced last season in an "NCIS" episode. The new series will be shot entirely on location, "against this wonderfully rich backdrop of music and culture and people and all the things that New Orleans has to offer," Glasberg said. (Louisiana's generous tax credits have also made the state a desirable place for both movie and television production.)

Preparation for the first episode is under way, and production starts Wednesday, July 23, Glasberg said.

Expect some crossover with "the mothership," Glasberg said.

"We’re currently planning an episode where Gibbs will make an appearance. We have a storyline where Michael Weatherly is involved, where Pauley Perrette is involved, David McCallum. That’s the fun of what we have here."

Harmon said of Bakula: "I’ve known Scott for years, and he’s worked with my wife, and we’ve known the same people and run into each other a bunch of times. I think getting an opportunity to play a role like this, and certainly coming off of a successful show like 'NCIS' is a fairly rare opportunity."

Bakula concurs. "I agree with everything Mark said. Look. We have big shoes to follow, and the hope is where we’re going and with the characters that we’re getting and that are being developed for us, that we can invest and get an audience to invest with us."

Harmon talked about Bakula "moving himself and his family to New Orleans," but Bakula, at a CBS party with his wife, Chelsea Field, said, "I don't know where that came from. They aren't moving. We'll be doing a lot of commuting."

Bakula said he hadn't really gotten into the role yet and couldn't say much about how it was going. He said he didn't even know how he'd be speaking.

After the first episode aired, some viewers complained about the accent Bakula used. How he will really be speaking is still in flux, he said.

"They wrote this character who is born and bred in New Orleans, but they didn't want the full-on accent," Bakula said. "We're still working on how I'll sound."

Look for more on Bakula (Kirkwood High School, 1973) when "NCIS: New Orleans" premieres Sept. 25 on CBS.

Gail Pennington is the television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.