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TCA Press Tour: LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell: future rap team?

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Would you watch a November sweeps episode of "NCIS: Los Angeles" in which LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell rap together, with O'Donnell covering Eminem?

We say, "Claro que si!"

It was just a joke that LL Cool J made during a press conference held on the set of the CBS spin-off on Friday, a rap duo we thought had potential. But the rapper-turned-actor wants viewers to know he's taking his new job very seriously.

"It's really exciting for me to finally be doing something where I'm actually, like, new," he said. "I'm not like the elder statesman of hip-hop walking into the room. I'm actually like an unproven guy that's trying to make something happen for you guys, and that's a great dynamic for me. If you look at it for me as a human being, it gives me a chance to grow ... This is not LL Cool J solo on the microphone, you know, ripping his tank top off. This is Sam Hanna, the former Navy SEAL."

O' Donnell and LL Cool J are the stars of the spin-off, which is set in the Office of Special Projects division of NCIS, which is charged with apprehending criminals who threaten national security. Special Agent "G" Callen (O'Donnell) and Special Agent Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) assume false identities and use technology to bring down their targets. How high-tech does it get on this set? Think CNN's John King's "Magic Map," which the TV media was able to play with after the press conference.

"NCIS: Los Angeles" was introduced at the end of "NCIS'" last season. When the new show premieres on Sept. 22, the story line will move four months into the future on Callen's first day back on the job after having been shot. The show also stars Linda Hunt, Peter Cambor, Adam Jamal Craig and Daniela Ruah.

"We literally see [Callen's] scars. And he rolls into this new venue, and away we go from there," executive producer Shane Brennan said. "Will we answer what happened to him and how it happened and why? In the very best tradition of 'NCIS,' yes, and in the very best tradition of 'NCIS,' you'll just have to wait."

O'Donnell says his mind is on the people who have made the franchise a success.

"My biggest concern, and I think most of us, is to please the current 'NCIS' fans first and foremost because there's very loyal fans and a huge following. And, you know, if new people tune into the show, that's great, but I feel more pressure to live up to their expectations than I do maybe to the network or the studio expectations, to be honest with you."

LL Cool J agrees that the "NCIS" fans are of utmost importance. But he's preoccupied with something else.

"I think for me, the biggest challenge in this whole situation is just staying away from the craft service table," he said. If I could just do that. The candy bars, the doodles, the snicker doodles and sugar cookies -- it just drives me insane."

--Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: Linda Hunt, LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell at press conference. Credit: CBS

 
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