Celebrity Scoop: Brian Dietzen of 'NCIS'


In an industry filled with struggling actors, Brian Dietzen is one of the lucky ones. In 2004, he went to what was supposed to be an audition for a one-shot guest appearance on "NCIS." Now, nearly eight years later, he's logged more than 100 episodes in his role as medical examiner's assistant Jimmy Palmer on the hit CBS series.

"I could tell that first day that things were going well," the actor recalls. "People were laughing behind the camera, which was good for an ego boost. But I had no idea that David McCallum in particular would help me out so much and make a push for me to stick around, and everyone seemed to like my character."

Since then, McCallum, who plays Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard on the series, has become a cherished colleague and golfing buddy to Dietzen, who only occasionally gets a glimpse into McCallum's previous career success as secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the '60s TV smash "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."

"He says these things in passing that just crack me up, like the time he had to be escorted out of Central Park by a policeman on horseback because there were too many people that were just clawing and trying to get at him," Dietzen says. "Later, I'd be talking about that to Mark Harmon, and Mark said, 'No, Brian, he was like a Beatle.' "

Dietzen has known he wanted to be an actor ever since he was in a second-grade Christmas play, and he spent his early years onstage. These days, his work schedule on "NCIS" makes theater a bit of a pipe dream, but he writes, produces and acts in independent film projects with partners Juan Cardarelli and Eric M. Levy, including the upcoming "Congratulations," a look at contemporary marriage.

Favorite movie: " 'It's a Wonderful Life.' In my youth, I saw this as a fun movie that I watched each year with my family at Christmas. It was a tradition I looked forward to. As I've grown, so has my appreciation for it. James Stewart breaks my heart every time, and now that I have a family of my own, it hits me even harder. It's a masterpiece."

Favorite book: " 'The Catcher in the Rye' changed the perceptions of ever teen boy who read it, but recently I've been really enjoying 'Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption' by Laura Hillenbrand. I admire the men of my grandfather's generation, and this book contains the worst of what they went through. It's also quite a page-turner."

Favorite record: "Impossible to say. It's just too hard. I love every type of music, and if you stole my iPod, you'd find Ray LaMontagne, Blind Faith, Bright Eyes, Harry Connick Jr., The Killers, Beck, Johnny Cash, The Naked and Famous, Feist, Florence & the Machine, and Frank Sinatra. An album from high school that I still love and listen to is Pearl Jam's 'Ten.' "

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