'NCIS' Producers Recall Why They Got Into Political Hot Water When Michelle Obama Made a Surprising Cameo09/25/2023
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NCIS is celebrating their 20th anniversary, which is an incredible run for a network show, but things haven’t always gone so smoothly. In the 13th season, the then-first lady Michelle Obama appeared in Episode 22, titled “Homefront” — it should have been a slam-dunk cameo, but the long-running series found itself in major hot water in 2016.
The premise was simple and heartfelt with Michelle, playing herself, discussing how the Barack Obama administration was assisting military families with a program called Joining Forces. The CBS show was allowed to film in the White House, a huge honor, but many NCIS viewers did not love that their beloved Leroy Jethro Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon, was in a scene with a Democrat.
Executive producer Mark Horowitz took the criticism all in stride. “It was a very positive thing, and it really came out great, and she was fantastic. Some people really reacted very positively to the show, and then other people did not like seeing Michelle Obama on the show,” he laughed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “So we didn’t really dive into politics that much.” He knew that the show was “more popular” with voters who are “politically conservative or live in more rural areas,” so the backlash was a bit expected.
Once Donald Trump was elected, NCIS did its best “stay away from the whole political thing” and “they didn’t talk much about the president,” according to executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson. The divide was too great at that point and they realized it was better if they “veered away” from it as much as possible. The wonderful thing about the Joining Forces program is that it still exists to this day, heralded by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, for military and veteran families — no matter what political affiliation they subscribe to.
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