As Tom Selleck winds down another TV season as a police commissioner, he maintains hope of playing a certain police chief again.
The late novelist Robert B. Parker’s character Jesse Stone gave the Emmy-winning actor an eight-film run on CBS, but it’s been two years since the last one. With Selleck ending Season 4 of the network’s drama series “Blue Bloods” Friday (May 9), it’s the traditional time when he would film another tale about Stone, a personally troubled lawman in fictional Paradise, Mass.
Also an executive producer and frequent writer on those mysteries, Selleck was able to build a repertory company that included such co-stars as Kathy Baker, William Devane, Viola Davis and Saul Rubinek. In Selleck’s view, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet on “Stone.”
“I hear about it all the time,” he tells Zap2it. “I can safely say, and this is not biting the hand that feeds me, that CBS isn’t interested in doing another one. I don’t know why, based on the performance of No. 8 (‘Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt’); we averaged 14 or 15 million viewers.
“I don’t think the character has run out,” adds Selleck. “It’s all about him, so the potential stories are endless. We’re looking at other venues for it … and I’m very proud that there’s a DVD box set where you get a free PPD (Paradise Police Department) hat!
“After the first one, I was having lunch with my boss at Sony (Pictures Television, the studio behind the movies) and she said, ‘Do you think we’ll get a second one?’ I said, ‘Someday, you’re going to come to me and show me a boxed set with about eight of them.’ And she said, ‘Oh, please.’ And now, we have it.”
Hallmark Channel has repeated the existing “Jesse Stone” mysteries, so that might be an outlet where the franchise could continue. “The trick is this,” Selleck explains. “I could probably sell it somewhere for the same amount of money, but the show might not have the same amount of money [in budget terms].
“We did each subsequent one for less money than we had for the first, which is just the way things go, but the production value held up. The weeks they’ve come out on video, the ‘Jesse Stones’ have competed in sales with major motion pictures — without any promotion — and that’s because they look like movies.”
Selleck concludes, “The real question, ethically and artistically, is whether we can do something with less money that doesn’t look like we’re doing something on the cheap. Obviously, the franchise is near and dear to me, and I don’t want to sell it out. We’ll see.”