Tom Selleck’s a busy man. Not only is he continuing to make his popular Jesse Stone TV movies, on which he writes, produces and stars, he’s now one of the stars of CBS’ new police drama Blue Bloods, about a multi-generational family of police officers.
In it he portrays Frank Reagan, the Police Commissioner of New York City. His eldest son, Danny (Donny Wahlberg), is a seasoned detective; Jamie (Will Estes), his youngest, is a new cop, and his daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is a N.Y. Assistant District Attorney.
Tom spoke about his full career at the TV Critics tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
You’ve said a number of times, when talking about the Jesse Stone franchise, that to go into another weekly series, with your family considerations, it had to be just the right thing. What made this the right thing?
It was good, number one. Number two it was an ensemble that clearly was going to require talented actors. And having done a lead, as I did in Magnum P.I., I was in every shot. And I wasn’t complaining, but it’s a tough road. And Magnum was never canceled. I kind of left it after eight years because I was tired from it, not tired of it. So it’s always been a consideration.
This really just seemed to fit perfect. The script was terrific. The idea that I was going to shoot in New York, causing a family consideration, was too good to pass up because I think in this show, and you could see it in the script, New York is another character.
Were you the first to come onto this project, and did you have a say in who was cast?
I didn’t have any official say whatsoever. They were nice enough to mention people to me. I have no objection to this fine group of actors that we’ve got. No, I wear a lot more hats on Jesse Stone. I got one hat (on this), maybe one and a half hats because I’m older.
Is it a relief to wear one hat on this, because you have been wearing multiple hats for a while now?
I don’t want to butt in, and it’s a matter of knowing my place. At the same time, I get ideas, so it’s important to establish a working relationship. I’ve learned things as a producer, an executive producer and as a writer of a series, which is what Jesse Stone is now.
I’m pretty good at wearing the correct hat. I’ve seen people throw their weight around too much most of my life in this business, and I want to make sure I don’t do that.
Are you bringing your whole family to New York?
No. It’s an ensemble show. I think I’ll probably spend half my time in New York City. I don’t mind the commute. I love my ranch and that lifestyle, but I love to work. And I have a mortgage, so it works out really well.
Can the family in it become too intertwined? It seems as if in certain cases, with Bridget’s character, you can’t have a brother and sister, presumably, sitting and talking over dinner about a case and then in a courtroom.
Conflicts are interesting for me. You can’t be more conflicted than the police commissioner who’s got a prosecuting attorney for a daughter and two sons who are cops on the street.
From the command standpoint, that’s going to be a big help to me in terms of the conflicts and the pressures of command, and the awareness of the perception that either he’s being too hard on them, because he’s close to them, or they’re getting special treatment. I think that’s going to be useful.
If he’s a commissioner, why does he wear a police uniform?
He came up through ranks and was a beat cop and ceremonially, I think, as a matter of leadership, he prefers to wear his chief’s uniform.
I think it’s very important for his character, who I’m still finding out a lot about, to wear his uniform. The commissioner doesn’t always do that. This one does.
What is the philosophy of the character, because he clearly cares very much about police work? Are you going to go into why he became a commissioner and left the hands-on aspect of that world?
Well, that’s above my pay grade, because I’ve only seen the first script. But I think he evolved into the commissioner. What I’m really trying to show, because that’s all history, is where he came from. He’s as blue collar as the rest of his family. He’s probably learned to be a little more diplomatic than maybe Donnie’s character, but he has the same temper and I think we’ll probably see it soon.
Is it a fight for you to keep the network making Jesse Stone movies, as it’s kind of old school in its approach?
Well, don’t tell my daughter that. I don’t know about skewing old. Maybe they do. What I do know is our deficit partner, Sony, just sent me a note saying that Jesse Stone: No Remorse, the last one that just aired, is Number 2 in video sales right behind Clash of the Titans. That’s competing against features, so I don’t think they’re just skewing old.
He happens to be a police chief of a very small town, so I’ve been weighing the two characters. I don’t see any conflicts in the two guys because they’re so different, but it’s my job to make these two characters different enough where the audience enjoys both.
But Jesse Stone hasn’t been a fight. The big problem was CBS decided to give up their movies of the week, and it’s hard to program a two hour movie. What we’ve become, I’m grateful to say, is kind of a two hour event. I hope people want to keep watching him because I love playing that guy, enough to make sure I could do him if I took this role.