A chat with Tom Selleck, Tom Selleck interview, Blue Bloods, Jesse Stone
Bill Lawrence

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Tom Selleck is just as awesome in person as you’d want him to be after watching him on television for the last 30+ years.  I know this to be true because I have met him…although I didn’t know I was going to meet him until a few moments before the event came to pass.

As soon as I heard that Selleck was going to be taking on his first regular series role since his short-lived 1998 CBS sitcom, “The Closer,” I became determined that I would get a one-on-one interview with him. After screening the pilot for this new series, “Blue Bloods,” I was even more excited about the prospect of chatting with him, because it was really, really good. I knew the deck was stacked against me, but I immediately contacted the CBS publicist handling “Blue Bloods” as well as Selleck’s personal publicist, telling them that I’d be attending the summer TCA Press Tour and would love to secure a few minutes with Mr. Selleck. Neither, however, was able to confirm exactly how long he was going to be in attendance and, as such, was unwilling to say for certain that they’d be able to find time for him to speak with me.

Fast-forward to the CBS all-star party. I have decided that I am a man on a mission…no, wait, make that two missions. The first, of course, is to talk to Tom Selleck. The second, however, is to talk to William Shatner, who has his own new series on the network this fall, “$#*! My Dad Says.” As it happens, I stumbled upon Shatner first, and…well, let’s just say that it didn’t go as well as I might’ve hoped, ending after only three questions with the man clapping his hand on my shoulder saying, “Thanks for your time.” In retrospect, however, if the conversation had gone on any longer, I might not have spotted Selleck entering the party with his publicist...and, more importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to fall into line right behind them.

I watched Selleck stroll over to the table to which his publicist had motioned. As she turned back in my direction, she saw me, quickly read my name tag, and before I could even open my mouth, she said, “Absolutely,” and motioned me toward her client.

Selleck looked forlornly at the table, then looked up at me and said, “No one will sit with me.”

I tried to play it cool, but I failed to keep from grinning as I said, “I will sit with you.”

 Selleck grinned back.

I sat down

+Bullz-Eye: How are you?

TS: Pretty good.

BE: I’m Will Harris. Good to meet you.

TS: Hi, Will.

BE: Well, I’ve got to start off by telling you that my father’s a member of the Single Action Shooting Society.

TS: Is he?

BE: He is. And given how much he plays cowboy, he’ll be thrilled that I’m getting the chance to talk to you.

Chevy ChaseTS: That group…that stuff is lot of fun. I’ve never really done it, but I know that it’s just…people are crazy for that. It’s doing great. And I like antique firearms, so it’s been a big boom to that stuff.

BE: Actually, that leads me to my first question. I know you’re very big on the authenticity of the firearms you use in westerns…

TS: Yeah, I’ve restored a bunch of old guns and built a few from scratch just because, you know, I grew up on westerns, and…you’d see a western that took place in 1870, and they’d have 1894 Winchesters. And it was not right. So we try to be real accurate, and it’s been fun learning about it.

BE: Do you have the same interest in maintaining a similar level of authenticity on “Blue Bloods”?

TS: Yeah, I’m sure my character has the ability to be armed. I play the New York City police commissioner, but he probably doesn’t carry all the time, although I haven’t made up my mind about that. You know, I’m not sure it wouldn’t be interesting if he didn’t carry.

BE: Surely he’s got a concealed weapon permit.

TS: Oh, yeah. Or he can certainly get one. (Laughs) But, yeah, I’m going to look to the accuracy of things and part of it is just, you know, it’s already kind of written for us. What does New York City allow? What do they allow people to carry? But within that, I know Donnie’s very big on this, too. Donnie Wahlberg and Will Estes, they want to be accurate and they want to handle the weapons properly. They want to look like they have the training of police officers. So I think all of that is really important.

BE: So how did “Blue Bloods” come about? Was it pitched straight to you?

TS: Yeah, go figure: I didn’t have to audition. They actually wanted me.

BE: And you’re over 50, too. I can’t believe it.

TS: Yeah, and that doesn’t happen often. (Laughs) I don’t know, they sent me the script, and…I had been looking for a long time for an ensemble piece, something where I wasn’t just the lead. This really has four leads…and what thatt really means, practically speaking, is that you’re not going to work every day for 15 hours a day, which is why I finally left “Magnum.” I wasn’t tired of it. I was tired from it. So “Blue Bloods,” in description, fit what I was looking for. Also, when I read it, it moved me, and that’s really what I think gets any actor. Does the script move you? It was about something I wanted to see. It wasn’t a procedural where we’re looking through microscopes…which I have no problem with, looking at blood cells and all. But that’s not going to be our show. We’re going to be different. It’s largely about these three generations of Irish cops, this family, and how the police work that we see in an episode affects them. And that’s what I found so interesting. It’s by two really good writers from “The Sopranos.”

BE: I’m already getting the “wrap it up” signal, but…are you pleased that you’re in a position where you can do this and continue “Jesse Stone”?

Chevy ChaseTS: Well, actually, that was the first thing that I said…and it was really nice that it was on CBS, because I said, “I’m not going to do this at the expense of ‘Jesse.’” And I don’t think they wanted me to, but I felt like I had to make it real clear, so I said, “How about ordering (movie) number eight?” Number seven’s ready to go. The last one was “No Remorse,” which I heard is number two this week in DVD sales, behind “Clash of the Titans.” And they advertise, those feature films. We don’t do any promotion or anything. So it’s doing really well.

BE: Are you surprised that the “Jesse Stone” films have been such a success?

TS: I’m not. But I love the character, and then I found audiences loved it. I remember…Sony is the partner in this with CBS, and I told my boss at Sony, I said…and you may laugh at me...but when we did our first movie, I said, ‘I think you’re going to have a great big, deluxe wooden box, with a box set of DVDs for this show.’ And I think that’s where we’re headed. The DVD sales are phenomenal, the ratings are really good’ and our reviews are great. I just love Jesse Stone. But this guy (in “Blue Bloods”) is very different…and it’s my job to make the two very different.

BE: My fingers are crossed that it’s a success. I really love the pilot.

TS: Thank you.

BE: Good to meet you, Tom.

TS: You, too.

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