'NCIS' Pauley Perrette on salary negotiations and 'Borderland'

pauley-perrette-human-spirit-awards-2010.jpg"It's just weird," says Pauley Perrette of CBS' Tuesday-night blockbuster drama "NCIS," "after seven years, that after last Thursday, we don't have jobs."

Last week, news surfaced that Perrette, who plays Naval Criminal Investigative Service forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, and some of her other cast members are embroiled in salary negotiations with CBS TV Studios.

But Perrette reports that she has been asked to attend the CBS upfront presentation of the new fall schedule to advertisers on Wednesday, May 19, in New York City.

"I am going to upfronts," she tells Zap2it on Monday, May 10, "which I have not done since year one. Why not? I don't know. They haven't asked us."

She's also not personally involved in the negotiations.

"My job is to learn my lines," she says, "show up on set and do the best job I can. I can't even go there. I have people around me that I trust implicitly. They know I don't want to hear about it. I don't know anything about it. I read it on the Internet, just like everybody else."

Right now, though, "NCIS" has three episodes left before the season-seven finale, and Perrette promises that anyone who hangs in for the ride, starting with the episode on Tuesday, May 11, won't be disappointed.

"This coming Tuesday," she says, "oh, my God, it's tomorrow! I haven't seen it yet. The producers and people that have seen it already have said that it's some of the best work in seven years, tomorrow night."

Called "Borderland," the episode picks up on the one before it, in which Mexican justice department official Alejandro Rivera ( Marco Sanchez), invited Abby to speak at a symposium in his country.

"She thinks it's going to be a fun trip," Perrette says, "and he's all, "I'll show you around Mexico.' He's all cute, and she's like 'Yay,' and then it's just like [she approximates the sound of squealing brakes], a long, slow-motion accident. You start hearing the screeching of wheels, and you're waiting to see what it's going to hit."

Perrette will be in front of her television watching "NCIS," because she doesn't know everything that's in the episodes to come.

"Everything has been stamped 'Confidential,'" she says. "More than any time, we've had red pages [which can't be photocopied]. The actors that are in the scene get these red pages. You learn your lines, you go do your scene, and immediately when you're done, they take the pages away from you and shred them.

"So I know about a couple of scenes with me and Mark Harmon that are super-intense, that I shot. What I don't know are the other people's red-pages scenes.

"The other thing that's fascinating -- especially for the fans, who are going to freak -- is that things that are happening in the next three episodes have been laid in place for seven years. They're little clues, little things, seemingly insignificant things, where you're like, 'Hang on a sec ...'"

Tuesday's episode also features one of Perrette's favorite things about her job, being allowed to plug her many charities.

"In this coming-up episode," she says, "we have Save the Children, we have the Humane Society, and we have Habitat for Humanity again, for the third time.

"I'm doing a PSA for Save the Children during the show. It's an incredible platform. The fact that my producers are aware of that and completely support me wherever they can -- and my network has, too -- to me, that is just like,' Yes!'

"I don't know what other people want from their jobs. I have a tiny trailer. I don't want a big trailer. What I want is that. They let me put my charities on the show. It's awesome."

And in case you're still not convinced you should tune in to "Borderland," Perrette says, "It's a very kickass episode of 'NCIS.'"

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