As exciting as it was to watch as the Actor’s answered questions, this particular group of fans seemed to be equally as interested in learning about what goes into making the show, finding out what makes NCIS LA “tick.” What a better place to start than sitting face-to-face with amazing writers for the show?
The group was honored to have Dave Kalstein and Andrew Bartels attend the meet. Erin Broadhurst, now working as a Writers’ Assistant, was asked to join the Panel. Kalstein, a veteran writer for the show, explained how Bartels had been hired as an intern, and was basically the “lunch guy” until recently promoted to writer. Kalstein praised Bartels on how he took the characters of the show and began writing for them.
When asked the degree of difficulty in writing for each character, Bartels said that Callen was tricky to write because he “doesn’t come off as a funny guy, but he still says funny things.” Everyone laughed, and Bartels sank in his chair just a bit, when his mentor’s immediate response to that remark was, “You know they’re going to tweet this to Chris O’Donnell.” However, Kalstein also admitted that writing for Callen was challenging – “You’re writing for Chris, but you’re also writing for Shane.” And with Callen, “it’s not about what he says, it’s about what’s in between the lines of what he says.” According to Kalstein, Hetty is fun to write for because Linda Hunt gives him such great feedback. And Kensi and Deeks are the easiest characters to write for because they are similar in age.
The audience learned that, rather than each writer having his or her own office, Shane Brennan has them grouped together in one room. (Brennan’s dedication to family, and his endeavor to create a family atmosphere for the Cast and Crew, was a common theme connecting each panel discussion on this day.) By sharing a space, the writers learn from one another, and are able to maintain continuity in their writing, and consistency in developing the characters. Then, to everyone’s amusement, Dave Kalstein revealed that Brennan sometimes uses a robot, a cylinder with an iPad attached to it, to communicate with them at work. It comes rolling into the Writers’ room, Brennan’s face filling up the entire iPad screen. And apparently, in order to communicate effectively, the thing creepily invades people’s personal space.
Kalstein addressed the topic of why certain aspects of a story may not be consistent with real life. He said that real police cases would not be solved in the allotted time for each episode, and that the primary focus is not on the crime, but on the characters. Listening to Dave Kalstein talk about something that he is obviously so passionate about was something akin to mesmerizing, and the time slot for this panel discussion seemed to be over in the blink of an eye.