CBS' NCIS: Hawai'i Spinoff Is Making Franchise History With First Cast Members

vanessa lachey in fox's call me kat

(Image credit: fox press)

Though it's sometimes easy to forget, especially when David James Elliot isn't stopping by as a guest star, the NCIS franchise was brought into existence through the crime drama JAG back in 2003. 18 years later, CBS is now set to kick off the latest new chapter in this crime drama universe in the form of NCIS: Hawai'i, which just recently added its first three cast members. And with one of those additions, the upcoming spinoff is actually making a bit of NCIS franchise history.

NCIS: Hawai'i cast model, actress, and Dancing with the Stars quasi-troublemaker Vanessa Lachey as the intimidating but fair Jane Tennant. And while we'll go over more of her character traits in a second, let's all take a moment to recognize that Lachey's Tennant will be the first female lead squarely at the center of an NCIS show, rubbing shoulders with such established vets as Mark Harmon's Leroy Gibbs, Scott Bakula's Dwayne Pride, LL Cool J's Sam Hanna and more. It's definitely a long time coming, and it should be interesting to see how Lachey handles herself within this TV-topping franchise.

Similar to how Vanessa Lachey is ascending to a place of power as the main character of NCIS: Hawai'i, her character Jane Tennant is the first woman to take the title of Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor, according to Deadline. As one can imagine, she wasn't handed the gig on a silver platter. Tennant fought for and earned her professional successes in a professional setting dominated by men, with abundant confidence and a strategic mind.

But as important as her job title is, that's not what defines Tennant, who is also a loving mother that doesn't have a whole lot of help in raising her children. She's got the ultimate job of balancing her family duties and her national duties, but it's all in a day's work for Tennant (and also for Lachey).

What's more, NCIS: Hawai'i's first casting news notes another female lead joining the show. The Originals and I Ship It vet Yasmine Al-Bustami will be joining the fun in Hawaii as the character Lucy, who is a junior member within Tennant's NCIS squad. Like her boss, Lucy is brimming with self-confidence and the accolades to show for it, and she hasn't yet lost her excited verve on the job. So expect to see Lucy taking point in any kind of situation, from paperwork to taking perps down.

The third official cast member locked down for NCIS: Hawai'i is Claws and Famous in Love alum Jason Antoon, which may be a bummer to anyone hoping the new spinoff would have a trio of females heading things up. Antoon is taking on the role of Ernie, NCIS' Cyber Intelligence Specialist. With a brain that holds expansive knowledge on all things Hawaii, technology, history and literature, Ernie is a computer wizard on top of being a human encyclopedia, and is obviously a major plus for Tennant's team. Though Ernie doesn't have any family members that live on the island, he makes a point of inserting himself into the families of his co-workers.

NCIS: Hawai'i is the creation of NCIS: New Orleans' executive producer and showrunner Christopher Silber and fellow EP/writer Jan Nash, along with SEAL Team writer/producer Matt Bosack. Interestingly, another way this creative team will handle things different with the upcoming spinoff is by apparently setting up the story all on its own, without relying on producing a backdoor pilot to air as part of another NCIS series. Rather, it sounds like NCIS: Hawai'i will feature a totally original storyline from the jump, though with the possibility of other CBS drama characters popping up from those other Hawaii-based shows.

With NCIS now formally locked in for Season 19, which will no doubt air alongside NCIS: Hawai'i, be sure to keep watching the remainder of the semi-flagship drama's eighteenth season, which airs Tuesday nights on CBS at 8:00 p.m.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.