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Harmon: "Impressive body count" in "NCIS" finale

With more than 22 million viewers a week, the CBS crime drama "NCIS" continues to be the highest-rated scripted series on TV.

For eight action-packed seasons, Mark Harmon has led the cast as special agent Jethro Gibbs.

But will his run end this year?

He's not saying.

Harmon, 59, told "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge the finale features "an impressive body count."

"That's about all I can say," he remarked. "I think we'll try to answer some of the questions at the end of this year, early next year, and Gary Glasberg is doing a great job with that, and I think that our audience obviously is tuning in, and we've earned that."

Wragge pressed, "You talk about impressive body count - you're not one of them? You don't have any shocking announcements to make?"

"I didn't say that," Harmon said. "If I'm not here in the fall, then you can talk to whoever else is."

Wragge noted "NCIS" didn't start out with the ratings it currently enjoys, but has really shot up in popularity in recent years.

Harmon said, "Great people involved in the show and a pleasant place to work, and we're all appreciative, and that appreciation, I think, is what people respond to on the show. We like each other and it shows."

He continued, "We've changed in front of the camera, we've changed behind the camera, certainly, and we've managed to get better with change, so it's rare, and ... it's something, it's important to appreciate."

Harmon said 14 other shows were launched in 2003, and only "NCIS" and "Two and Half Men" are still being produced.

"You seem to have a leg up there," Wragge remarked, referring to the Charlie Sheen-led series.

"Never know," Harmon replied.

Harmon plays a special agent in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. But Harmon has an appreciation for the real guys who do the job his character does on TV.

He said, "It's a difficult job and one that I don't have to do for real; I can act it. But it takes a very rare breed. It's a warrior who does that."

Wragge also asked the "NCIS" star about his current ranking above Oprah Winfrey as America's Most Popular TV Star, according to a recent Harris poll.

Wragge said, "Oprah Winfrey, whom you've knocked from the perch, she's now number two, she's leaving afternoon television, her net worth, from what we've been told is below a gazillion dollars. Do you feel bad kicking Oprah while she's down off the top spot?"

"I don't know how to respond to that question," Harmon said. "It's a good day for the show. Other than that, I move on."

As for his celeb status, Harmon said when people call out his name on the street, he doesn't pay attention.

He said, "(I) just walk a little faster."

While the show is on hiatus, Harmon said, he plans to work for a while and then travel to Montana with his family. He returns to the "NCIS" set July 4.

The season finale of "NCIS" is Tuesday at 8/7c on CBS.

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