CBS Early Show
November 27, 2001
Jane Clayson: Actor David James Elliott's portrayal of strait-laced Navy attorney Harm Rabb on the hit series JAG has helped turned the show into primetime's ratings blockbuster. David James Elliott, good morning!
DJE: Good morning.
Jane: Did you like that intro? Primetime ratings blockbuster?
DJE: Primetime ratings blockbuster ... I like that. ... Strait-laced ...
Jane: But after seven years, you must be happy the show is such a hit.
DJE: It's ... ah ... I was going to say shocking ... but I don't think shocking is a good word. It's a pleasant surprise. ... No, I don't say that I expected it, but I would hate not to expect it.
Jane: You started on NBC.
Jane: Then CBS picked you up ... ping-ponged between nights.
DJE: Mid-season ...
Jane: Mid-season. Right. Finally found your rhythm?
DJE: I guess. Even in the mid-season replacement, they picked up another three shows. It instantly hit.
Jane: Do you think the events of September 11th caused some people who hadn't seen the show before that time to suddenly become interested in the subject matter and to tune you in?
DJE: I would hate to have great success because of that horrific event. But certainly, a lot of people were interested to see how the military works. It garnered some interest and we've held onto them.
Jane: But you're mindful of what's going on in our world. You work some of that into the storyline?
DJE: Yeah. It's tough because of the lag time from shooting the show 'til it airs to be overly specific for fear of being caught with our pants down. What we've done is we touch upon it generally then we would shoot scenes that are more specific a day or two before airing and insert them in the show. I understand there are some episodes coming up that deal directly with Afghanistan. So that's what we're doing.
Jane: What do fans of the show, military fans, what do they say, about the authenticity of it, how you're weaving the storyline through it?
DJE: They really appreciate how accurate we are, the great pains we take to be technically accurate. And that's something we've always done. And that's unique to Hollywood, from what I can see and from what I've heard from many people. Normally they don't hire technical advisors. Certainly early on, the technical advisors we hired were sort of lazy in a way. You know, they'd offer some information or they'd lay back or just assumed that you didn't care.
Jane: They'd give you the Hollywood version.
DJE: They give you the Hollywood version. But we have a guy now, a 22-year veteran of the Marine Corps, his name's Matt Sigloch. This is the Marine Corps navy and we're more squared away than the Navy is.
Jane: Let's take a look at you in action.
[clip from Jagathon]
Jane: Hmmm, this relationship between you and Sarah, Mac MacKenzie, is heating up, isn't it? Will we see a full-fledged relationship this year?
DJE: In the last episode, no this episode, she tells my friend that she's in love with me.
Jane: [Gasp! Laughing] Did you send a little note like in high school?
DJE: I think she swore him to secrecy so I don't know where that's....
Jane: But that's got a lot of interest?
DJE: It's certainly heating up. Yes.
Jane: A lot of people will remember you from your appearance on Seinfeld, on Melrose Place, among other things. Is this sort of a dream role for you?
DJE: This was a great role for me. You know, when I first read the pilot I saw just endless possibilities for story ideas. And the show...you know there's a lot of variety. It's pretty limited in some ways. The show is never only one thing. It's never just a drama, or courtroom, or an action. It's all of these things. Comedic sometimes, the thrust ... It's interesting from an acting point of view in that respect.
Jane: Seven years. After seven years how much longer can you stay on.
DJE: I don't know. Coming up on 150 episodes.
DJE: That's like a lot of hours.
Jane: You were trained in the theatre? After this you want to go back?
DJE: We were talking about that. My agent and I.
Jane: Really!? REALLY!?!
DJE: So who knows, you know.
Jane: It's good to see you again.
DJE: It's nice to be here.