ArcaMax publishing 9-8-06

The Hollywood Exclusive
Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith

BIG WHEEL: David McCallum got famous playing a cool Russian spy on the classic TV series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," which boasted 007 writer Ian Fleming among its creators. Today (9/8), McCallum debuts as the voice of a gadget-filled car -- one probably worthy of 007 -- in the Disney Channel's new "The Replacements" animated series. "My father is a Rolls Royce, and my mother is a Bentley, and I have friends who are Aston Martins," brags the Glasgow, Scotland-born actor, best-known to "NCIS" fans as chief medical examiner Donald "Ducky" Mallard.

He says the cartoon assignment came "out of the blue. A friend called me and said, 'How would you like to play a car? It would be great for your grandchildren.'" And suddenly he found himself "amidst this whole animation crowd at a launch party. There was Nancy Cartwright, who I am working with, and who is obviously a tremendous talent," he says of the actress who voices Bart Simpson as well as the lead character in "The Replacements." "And there were wonderful weird wackos who run websites, doing interviews right in the middle of the crowd, making no attempt to go somewhere quiet. It's a different world."

As far as his latest roll -- er, role: "I had a wonderful time with it. It's very exciting, and they get you to overact and do things you never get to do in normal television. There's a wild and wooliness about the whole thing."

McCallum is well aware that "NCIS" fans have been anxiously awaiting the conclusion of last season's cliffhanger, in which Mark Harmon's character was on his way out. He won't say what happens. But he will say, "The wait won't be much longer. We're back on Sept. 19." Meanwhile, Ducky "this year has taken a degree in forensic psychology and is now not just doing autopsies, but psychological autopsies as well."