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Interview With The Creator Of NCIS: Hawai'i Christopher Silber


Born and raised in New York City, Christopher Silber is a producer and a writer, currently serving as one of the showrunners of the new series NCIS: Hawai'i, which is part of the iconic NCIS franchise. Silber makes writing appear pretty easy, particularly with his experience working on past projects such as NCIS: New Orleans, Cold Case and CSI: NY

With the newly imagined Hawaiian version of the series, which Christopher produces alongside Jan Nash and Matt Bosack, he is constantly pushing boundaries in the American television landscape. Arabian Moda got in touch with the showrunner to learn more about his craft and what he loves doing. 

by Haider Rifaat

AM: Christopher, tell us about yourself and what pulled you towards production in the first place?
I was always interested in the show business. My parents were involved in the arts, and I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be an actor. Then I went to college, Northwestern University, where I studied theater and writing. When I graduated, I realized that writing was something I felt more connected with.

I wrote plays for a little while, and around 2000, my wife and I moved to Los Angeles where I began focusing on television. I focused on television specifically because it felt like a closer connection between playwriting and theater, and television was a medium of getting people together as a troop. Upon becoming a television writer, I was able to experience production firsthand and grew to love it, and have been doing it ever since.    

AM: What is your vision for the new spinoff show NCIS: Hawai'i?
Jan Nash and I were working on a previous show together. I was running NCIS: New Orleans and Jan later ran it with me during season six of the series. Around that time, when we were brainstorming on introducing a new character, we started talking about where that character would come from. We realized that there is an NCIS office in Hawai'i at Pearl Harbor, and felt that it was a great idea for a show! Not only was it a great location but it married the unique quality of the franchise, which of course, is solving navy and military crimes. What was important to us was to do a show, like New Orleans, where the place it was set in, was equally a character. There is a gift that comes with shooting your show in the city it takes place in. Oftentimes, when you work on a lot of shows, they are shot in Los Angeles but take place in New York or Philadelphia. Our shows are actually shot where they take place, which is fantastic!

Jan and I had been batting around the idea and we knew that if we were going to do another show, we didn’t want it to be just a fourth in the franchise. We didn’t want Hawai'i to be a cookie cutter; we wanted it to have its own identity. It was important to us that the show had a female team leader, and a diverse group of agents, and we were able to go home with them and get to know them personally, and not just focus on crimes.

We also knew that if we were going to set a show in Hawai'i and be true to Hawai'i, we needed to work with someone who understood the state. That is where we brought in our third co-creator, Matt Bosack. His family has deep ties to Hawaiian culture and the military, so he was the perfect partner to have on board. The three of us then focused on delivering a character-driven, satisfying, NCIS procedural show in Hawai'i.

Christopher Silber

AM: What new does the show offer compared to your past projects?
I have been very fortunate to work on a lot of different shows, specifically with CBS. I had the opportunity to become a showrunner on a previous show—New Orleans—where I felt very much like I was the steward of the show. I didn’t create it, but I came in and took the responsibility of helping that ship move on its journey. What was very attractive about doing NCIS: Hawai'i was the idea that we were creating something of our own.

Certainly, it takes place in the NCIS world, and it is part of a franchise but all three of us were able to put ourselves into it, and have that sense of being creators, starting from the ground floor, and creating a world both on-screen and off-screen. That in itself is extremely rewarding! It is a lot of hard work to try and get a series up and running, but to know that it is your own, and to see it come to fruition has been fantastic!

AM: Going forward, what new projects can readers anticipate from you?
I am constantly working on my next idea. I have a project that has been in development at CBS that I am overseeing for another writer, which is completely different. It is called Liar’s Club, and is about a suburban wife who is living a secret life as a high stakes, underground poker player. It is actually written by one of the other writers of NCIS: Hawai'i. We are trying to continue to push that process along, while also making sure that NCIS: Hawai'i keeps moving forward as it is our number one priority.

AM: To conclude, what valuable lesson has life taught you?
I will make it more specific to the show business because it is so hard going into the entertainment industry, you know! There are so many roadblocks along the way. I knew from the time I graduated college that this is what I wanted, where I waned to be, and knew that I had to stick with it.
With success, there is a lot of failure attached, too. That can be disappointing and heartbreaking, but you just have to keep working on yourself. I can now look back and say, “Look what I was able to achieve!” but when you are going through it, you have to have faith. Show business has taught me the value of being faithful to my craft, knowing that I can knock wood. I am grateful that there are rewards that came with that lesson.

About Haider Rifaat: He is a Features Writer for OK! Pakistan, the international edition of OK! Magazine; writer for Arabian Moda and Flanelle Magazine. He is also an actor and currently serves as the creator and host of the podcast/issue-based series "Conversations with Haider Rifaat" on YouTube. He can be reached via instagram, twitter and on email: