Mark Harmon, star of television’s highest rated program, will be stepping out briefly to headline a new two-hour movie, Certain Prey, for USA Network.

The NCIS star has signed on for the network’s first original movie since the 2005 flick Three Wise Guys. In Certain Prey, Harmon will play Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Lucas Davenport, who is on the trail of a hit-woman, all the while being hunted himself by a crazed killer. Certain Prey is the tenth book in a series of Lucas Davenport-led Prey novels by author John Sanford.

The script for Certain Prey was written by Chris Gerolmo (Citizen X, Mississippi Burning), and will be produced by Harmon, Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein. Harmon’s role as producer and star is no doubt a suitable perk linked to his recent resigning with his top-rated CBS drama for two more years.

Besides airing reruns of NCIS, USA has been making a name for itself by producing several successful hour-long series like Burn Notice, Psych and Royal Pains – shows that have developed a strong core audience that will follow the program no matter where it gets shuffled in the line up. With Certain Prey the network has yet another original program to entice viewers with. Essentially, Prey is like a graphic novel: a double-sized one-shot that doesn’t require its audience to have prior knowledge of continuity in order to become totally engrossed.

As there are 21 novels in Sanford’s Prey series, USA could be looking at a serious investment in Harmon, should Certain Prey prove successful. Harmon certainly has proven himself  capable of attracting large audiences on NCIS, as the series nabbed its best ratings ever just a few weeks ago. Additionally, I’m sure USA Network executives think that casting America’s favorite television personality as Lucas Davenport will certainly be a big step in making this a successful television movie franchise. Just think, had Certain Prey been produced last year, it might be starring Oprah Winfrey.

Production is scheduled to begin in May, but there is no word yet on when Certain Prey will air on the cable network.

Source: Deadline