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The NCIS New Orleans Scene That Could Have Ended In Tragedy

A fictional robbery turned into a terrifying encounter for two NCIS: New Orleans actors after the police were called during filming, according to a lawsuit. 

Both men — along with the owner of the jewelry store the CBS show was filming in — allege that CBS failed to properly obtain permits and notify both area authorities and businesses about the armed robbery scene, which was filmed inside a busy shopping center (via Decider). As a result, the actors allege they were misled about the job; they believed it would be a "traditional television shoot" that included permitting, a police presence, and standard-set safety protocols.

Instead, they allege CBS and the NCIS: New Orleans production had them perform a realistic "guerrilla-style" armed robbery in public without going through the proper channels with the city. The scene in question was a jewelry heist sequence in which the actors were asked to leap out of an unmarked van while wearing ski masks. Armed with fake yet realistic-looking assault rifles, their characters at one point shout, "This is a robbery!" 

The exchange apparently unnerved a neighboring business owner, who reportedly called 9-1-1. This prompted officers from the New Orleans Police Department to show up and point their guns at the actors, according to the suit filed by the men. TMZ, which published details of the lawsuit, reported that the two men and the suit's third plaintiff — the owner of the jewelry store the scene was filmed in — are claiming that the experience was both terrifying and psychologically traumatizing. 

All three parties claim they were first approached about doing the scene by NCIS producers back in October 2017. After being contacted, they agreed to do it with the understanding that they'd be following standard production protocols. Because those allegedly weren't in place, TMZ reports, the two actors and the jewelry store owner are arguing that NOPD's arrival on set could have resulted in one of them getting killed by an officer.

CBS has moved to have the case thrown out of the California courts

Based on comments from responding officers, the plaintiffs' fears were likely real. "We were not notified at all," St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann, who responded to the call, told local New Orleans station WWL-TV. "When I went inside, I talked to them. I said 'This is insane. I don't think y'all realize how close this came for this ending up bad for all involved.'"

Bradford Roublow, an extra in the scene and one of the two actors named in the suit, told the station that he was accused of armed robbery and detained while on set. Sol Virani, the jewelry store owner, also recounted the experience of having guns pointed at him by "at least a dozen deputies," according to Pohlmann. 

"I did all the scene, everything went good. At the end, I saw all the lights all over me, every guy," Virani said. "I'm like, 'Wow.'" 

The three are suing the network for damages. While CBS has yet to provide comment, the network's own filed case documents show that it's attempting to get the suit thrown out of court in California. CBS is arguing that because the event happened in Louisiana, the case should be filed and handled there. However, according to TMZ's report, the three plaintiffs' representation are holding firm that the case should remain on the west coast, since CBS produces the series in California.

Debuting in 2014, NCIS: New Orleans stars Scott Bakula as Special Agent Dwayne Pride, the head of the Big Easy's NCIS field office, which is responsible for investigating military personal-involved criminal cases in the vibrant and alluring city. The show is a spin-off NCIS, the long-running CBS series, and is slated to premiere its seventh season on November 8, 2020, without former star Lucas Black