Naval shakeup: Jennifer Esposito departs 'NCIS'

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Andrew Warren / TV Media
Jennifer Esposito as seen in "NCIS"

Jennifer Esposito as seen in "NCIS"

Naval shakeup: Two of the biggest series on television are shaking things up a bit. Sister shows "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles" both have some casting changes in line for their upcoming seasons, but longtime fans of the two smash-hit CBS procedurals shouldn't fret: the changes are relatively minor ones.

"NCIS" will have one fewer familiar face on screen when it returns Tuesday, Sept. 26, but both it and its younger sibling will have a new face as well. "NCIS: Los Angeles" returns for a ninth season Sunday, Oct. 1.

First, the bad news: Jennifer Esposito is no longer with the "NCIS" family. The former "Blue Bloods" actress joined the procedural last season as Special Agent Alex Quinn, who was convinced by Gibbs (Mark Harmon, "Chicago Hope") to join his elite team.

Luckily, the naval investigative team won't be understaffed for long. Maria Bello ("A History of Violence," 2005) is lined up to join the team in the season's fourth episode. The veteran actress will be playing an as-yet-unnamed agent who has spent the years since she served in Afghanistan building a reputation as one of NCIS's best forensic psychologists. 

Over on the "NCIS: Los Angeles" side of things, Nia Long has signed on as a series regular. The "Big Momma's House" (2000) star has been cast as the L.A. team's new executive assistant director. She was recently seen in a recurring role in Fox's hit "Empire," and in "NCIS: Los Angeles," she'll be playing a former Secret Service agent from Washington who brings her own unique way of doing things to the West Coast team.

It's new faces for both "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles" when they return to CBS this fall. "NCIS" premieres Tuesday, Sept. 26, and "NCIS: Los Angeles" joins it Sunday, Oct. 1.


Weaponized castings: The Los Angeles Police Department will have a little more sex appeal when "Lethal Weapon" returns for its sophomore season Tuesday, Sept. 26, on Fox. Two actors have added their names to the action-comedy's roster, and one of them brings an exotic charm to the show.

Australian actor Andrew Creer has joined the series as recurring character Zach Bowman, a smolderingly handsome man who partners with Det. Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor, "Black Boots"). The man from down under was in the Australian series "Barracuda" last year, and this year starred in the Australian film "Hurt."

As Zach Bowman, he'll become the LAPD's literal poster boy when the police force tries to put forward a good -- and handsome -- face following the explosive disasters that cops Murtaugh (Damon Wayans, "In Living Color") and Riggs (Clayne Crawford, "Rectify") tend to leave in their wake.

Also joining the cast is "Blindspot's" Michelle Hurd as the division's new chief. She and Murtaugh have a bit of a past, and he has trouble sorting out whether there's any lingering tension between them.

"Lethal Weapon" is loosely based on the film franchise that started with the 1987 film of the same name starring Mel Gibson ("Braveheart," 1995) and Danny Glover ("Angels in the Outfield," 1994). That hit movie grossed over $120 million, was nominated for an Academy Award, and spawned sequels in 1989, 1992 and 1998.

The guns, the explosions and the buddy-cop action return with a pair of new faces when "Lethal Weapon's" second season gets underway Tuesday, Sept. 26, on Fox.


Returning spaces: A homey favorite is staging a comeback. After ending its eight-season run in 2008, "Trading Spaces" has been revived and is coming back to TLC in 2018. Not only that, the returning series will have a familiar face at the helm, too.

Paige Davis hosted "Trading Spaces" for most of its original seasons, and she's returning to the series that made her a household name for many families. The Broadway and theater star also hosted Hallmark's "Home and Family" in 2008 and home improvement series "Home Made Simple" on OWN.

Davis is fully immersed in the realm of home improvement, and that has always paid off in "Trading Spaces." In the show, two sets of neighbors trade houses for a few days, and each renovates and redecorates a room in the other's home with a limited budget -- usually $1,000. Typically, the room-swappers know each other, so there (hopefully) aren't too many hard feelings when the refreshed rooms are revealed, and more often than not, the fresh spaces are a hit with the homeowners.

Homeowners interested in having their own houses showcased in the series can apply at TLC's casting website ( Applications from Atlanta, Baltimore and Los Angeles are currently being considered.

"Trading Spaces" had eight amazing seasons and now it's getting a ninth. Watch for Paige Davis sometime next year on TLC.