Q: What has happened to that actor who played Mike Franks on "NCIS"? I miss hearing his gravelly voice saying "Probie."

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Retired special agent Mike Franks, former mentor and partner of "NCIS" lead character Jethro Gibbs (whom he affectionately called "Probie" from Day 1), was played by rough-looking character actor Muse Watson until he was killed off this past season.

Watson arrived in Hollywood looking haggard and was already grey-haired when he took on his first screen role at the age of 41. Prior to that he'd made a living as a driver -- occasionally a stunt driver -- for film productions in and around his native Louisiana.

These days he's dividing his time between Los Angeles and North Carolina, staying busy with film work while on the West Coast.

Just as he splits his time between the two coasts, he also seems to split his screen time between feel-good pictures and thriller/horror projects.

Just since checking out of "NCIS" this spring, he's appeared in the family-friendly, make-a-wish picture "The Lamp" and the sci-fi horror pic "Of Silence."

He just wrapped the low-budget horror project "The Dead Ones" (produced by a company called Sick-O-Scope, no less) due out this winter, and has been attached to the match-making romantic comedy "Three Times a Lady."

He's also slated to begin work this fall on the oft-delayed and much-discussed "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde."

Fans like yourself, who're really aching for the voice of his paternal "NCIS" character, can rejoice in the fact he'll be coming back for the show's big 200th episode, according to the show's producer.

Gary Glasberg told TV Guide that Watson and a few of the show's other previous stars (including Darby Stanchfield, who played Gibbs's deceased wife) would be returning for the episode, slated for air this winter.


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