CBS'spinoff "NCIS: New Orleans" -- starring Scott Bakula -- will almost certainly be the most viewed network-TV newcomer this fall. But since there's no such thing as an absolutely sure bet on TV, "NCIS" star Mark Harmon told the TV critics' press tour in Beverly Hills, California, Thursday that he'll likely appear in the first four episodes. In addition, Pauley Perrette and Michael Weatherly of "NCIS" will have story lines threaded through some episodes.

"We have big shoes to follow, big footprints in the sand," said Bakula -- whose character is based on a real-life investigator. "The hope is where we are going [New Orleans] and with the characters we are getting, we can get an audience to invest with us."

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KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN. Morgan Freeman, an executive producer of CBS' new "Madam Secretary," says he has no on-air role -- yet. When asked whether he might, Freeman -- who hasn't done much TV since his "Electric Company" days -- said: "Not at this point." That's one of those phrases full of ambiguity and promise. Could he even become president to Téa Leoni's Secretary of State? Said he: "One never knows, do one?"

POLITICAL POSSIBILITIES? "The Late Late Show" could get a host with a political background, when Craig Ferguson steps down next year, CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler said yesterday. "We're looking at it through a very different lens," she said, adding, "There is an opportunity for us to look at all different kinds of hosts, not only from the comic world, but maybe there's someone from the political world."

For more news from the press tour, go to

More of the same NCIS, but this time in the heart of New Orleans with a focus on military-based crime. Starring Scott Bakula. Premieres fall 2014. (Credit: CBS)