Minerva contest: recasting NCIS

In her comment on the NCIS recasting post, Jean Latting said she thought she might ask her class to have a go.

And I thought, “but of course, this is an excellent Minerva contest.  Why didn’t I think of that?”  

So here is the question.  We are phrasing this one in the form of a Harvard Business School Case study:

“Don Bellisario, the creator of NCIS who left the show in 2007, has decided to return. [This is false and asserted here merely to supply a compelling pretext.]  

Mr. Bellisario wants to freshen the show with some casting changes. What should he do?

From the Culturematic given below, please choose 1 new actor and tell us what effect it would have on the show. Specifically, what difference would this difference make to the show, the dramatic and cultural terrain it can now cover.

Now choose 1 actor from the list you would NOT cast, and tell us very specifically why he or she would be wrong for the part and the show.

Now give us your ideal 5 choices and explain these actors bring to the show individually and as an ensemble.  How would NCIS now speak from and to contemporary culture?


One thousand words.

Point form ok.

Be imaginative, concise and interesting.  Find your assumptions and express your assumptions.  Show off your knowledge and mastery of popular culture

Winner gets a Minerva (as pictured) and a place in our Hall of Fame.

deadline: one month from today, i.e., May 13, 2011.


To be announced


The Minervas were created to encourage people to ask cultural questions and craft cultural answers.

Winners so far:

Juri Saar (for the “Who’s a good doggie woggie?” contest)

Reiko Waisglass (for the “Who’s a good doggie woggie?” contest)

Brent Shelkey (for the “Who’s a good doggie woggie?” contest)

Daniel Saunders (for the “JJ Abrams vs. Joss Whedon” contest)

Tim Sullivan (for the “Karen Black vs. Betty White” contest)

Lauren LaCascia (for the “Showtime vs. USA Networks” contest)

Diandra Mintz (for the “Showtime vs. USA Networks” contest)

Mark Boles (for the “Antique Roadshow vs. Pawn stars” contest)

Indy Neogy (for the “Nordic Noir” contest)

Judges so far:

Members of the faculty of the SVA (School of Visual Arts) ‘masters in branding’ program,

Debbie Millman

Pamela DeCesare

Dan Formosa

Tom Guarriello

Scott Lerman

and Richard Shear


Rick Boyko, Director and Professor, VCU Brandcenter

Schuyler Brown, Skylab

Bryan Castaneda, Attorney At Law

Ana Domb, C3, MIT

Mark Earls, author, Herd

Brad Grossman, Grossman and Partners

Christine W. Huang, PSFK, Huffington Post and Global Hue

Steve Postrel