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A 'JAG' Ace

From humble beginnings as an NBC cast-off and mid-season replacement on CBS, the legal action drama "JAG" has persevered to become one of television's highest-rated shows.

Now, in the show's ninth season, David James Elliott continues his starring role as Navy Commander Harmon Rabb, an ace pilot turned lawyer.

Elliott tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm he credits the success of the show to loyal fans. He says, "The core audience is one of the reasons CBS picked it up because they believed it performed well wherever they put it. We moved to Friday nights and we win Friday night."

The show is about officers trained as lawyers who investigate, prosecute and defend those accused of crimes in the military, including murder, treason and terrorism. And though it is filmed well in advance, it stays on top of current events.

Elliott points out, "In the old days, we would do something and then it wouldhave just happened. Obviously, when he went to war with Iraq, it was tricky. Just prior to that, when we didn't know if we were going, we were like, 'What do we do? Do we deal with it or not?' So we would just refer to it, and got more into the war when it was happening.

" And then we felt it was getting a little depressing. It was depressing on the set and it was like, 'My God, we can't just be all about that.'"

This Friday, Elliott as Rabb defends a star Navy pitcher charged with assault for hitting a Marine batter with a pitch.

Barry Zito, Oakland Athletics' pitcher and winner of the 2002 Cy Young Award, guest stars on the show.

Some Facts About David James Elliott

  • Elliott was born in Toronto and lives with his wife, 10-year-old daughter and infant son in Los Angeles
  • His early interest was rock 'n' roll music; he briefly quit high school to play with a band full-time
  • Elliott was singing in a rock band when he read King Lear in a theater history class at the age of 19 and was encouraged to try his hand at acting
  • He was accepted at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (an arts college in Canada) in 1983 and later at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, where he won the Jean Chalmers Award as Most Promising Actor
  • From 1985 to 1988, Elliott starred in the Canadian series "Street Legal"
  • In 1990, he moved to Los Angeles and was signed to a development deal with Disney
  • In 1992, he landed a recurring role as a pro baseball player in the long-running CBS hit series "Knots Landing"; later that year, he starred in the syndicated series "The Untouchables"
  • In 1996, People magazine named Elliott one of its "50 Most Beautiful People in the World"

    "JAG" airs Fridays from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET