Why ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ May Move Production From The Big Easy

NCIS: New Orleans is one of those shows that has an authentic feel, mostly because primary filming actually happens on the streets of the Big Easy. While fans have enjoyed that consistent authenticity over the years, there is talk about moving to film to another location – and it all has to do with new abortion restrictions in the state of Louisiana.

'NCIS: New Orleans' stars Scott Bakula and Shalita Grant
Scott Bakula and Shalita Grant | Photo by Skip Bolen/CBS via Getty Images)

Why is ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ on the move?

Louisiana is on the verge of approving a new law that will place tighter restrictions on abortions throughout the state. According to Cinema Blend, the state legislature in Louisiana just approved a law that will ban abortions the moment a heartbeat is detected in the fetus.

Celebrities have not responded positively towards the new legislation and are doing everything in their power to fight it. Producers of NCIS: New Orleans have found themselves in the middle of the drama and are reportedly thinking about leaving New Orleans altogether.

Filming NCIS: New Orleans in a different location would have a more noticeable impact than it would for a typical show. The Walking Dead, for example, is also thinking about pulling out of George because of similar issues. But TWD could easily be adapted to a new location. NCIS: New Orleans, on the other hand, features a lot of famous landmarks on each episode, many of which are just as important to the show as anything else. That is not to say that NCIS producers could not pull it off, but it would take away that feeling of authenticity.

Will ‘NCIS’ leave the Big Easy behind?

Despite the potential downsides, NCIS: New Orleans showrunner Christopher Silber is not afraid to look for a new filming location. Silber and his team are already filming the new season in New Orleans so it is too late to pull out now, but they are considering leaving the city for future seasons. If lawmakers follow through with the new abortion legislation, there is a very real possibility that the show films in a new location next year.

“As the show continues production in New Orleans this season, we will monitor developments and wait to see how this plays out in the courts. Should the legislation take effect, it would be unconscionable to me to continue production in a state that enacts a draconian law putting women’s health and rights at risk,” Silber shared.

Fortunately, the law has not been put into practice yet and there is a possibility that it never does. If that happens, Silber will likely keep the cast and crew rooted in the Big Easy. Despite the controversial new law, the head of Louisiana’s entertainment office, Chris Stelly, revealed that no production teams have left the state so far. Those numbers, of course, will probably change if legislatures move forward with the new abortion plan.

Where would ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ relocate?

NCIS: New Orleans decided to film in its namesake city for various reasons. For starters, producers wanted the series to have an authentic feel, a goal they accomplished by showcasing some of the city’s most famous landmarks. Louisiana also offers tax breaks as an incentive to film within its borders. In the event that Silber moves production to a new state, there is a way they could still incorporate some of the iconic landmarks moving forward.

Producers could easily build new sets in a studio and then shoot a handful of scenes in New Orleans. The landmarks would not be featured as heavily as they are now, but it would still give fans a feeling that they are actually in New Orleans. We can only hope that it does not come to that and that lawmakers in Louisiana come up with a better plan for abortions.

A look at Louisiana’s filming industry

Apart from NCIS, there are other shows and movie projects that are continuing to film in the state despite the looming legislation. As of 2019, there are around 18 projects underway throughout the state, including The Purge, Queen Sugar, and Bill and Ted Face the Music. These various projects account for close to 7,500 jobs in Louisiana and have contributed over $940 million in spending. Although this is significant for Louisiana, it pales in comparison to Georgia’s entertainment sector, which boasts some 92,000 jobs and $9 billion in revenue.

It is unclear when the new abortion law might take effect, though filmmakers are hoping that it never gets enacted into law.

NCIS: New Orleans is scheduled to return for a new season this fall.