Tom Selleck, <i>Blue Bloods</i> Tom Selleck, Blue Bloods

On the eve of tonight's contentious Blue Bloods episode (10/9c, CBS), in which a terrorist threat finds the Reagan brood — a family of New York City cops and lawyers headed by Tom Selleck's patriarch, police chief Frank — at loggerheads over racial profiling, the TV icon sat down for a chat about his current and past alter egos.

TV Guide Magazine: Do you like being back on a series?
Selleck: I love the show. In a series, your character grows and changes from week to week. That's unique, and the challenge is to keep making it better.

TV Guide Magazine: Your schedule has you going back and forth from Los Angeles to New York City. How's that working out?
Selleck: [Exec producer] Leonard Goldberg said, "Let's say you're working four days out of eight on an episode. We'll put the four days at the end of one shoot and the beginning of the next." That's allowing me 10 days or so a month in L.A., which is great, because my wife and daughters are there.

TV Guide Magazine: Do you worry that the show's central conceit — that so many people in one family, tightly related occupationally, often find themselves working on the same case — could get implausible over time?
Selleck: Yes. That's something that has to be watched out for. Eventually, I think you'll be seeing A and B stories where Frank is involved in one thing and his sons in another.

TV Guide Magazine: Frank has plenty of dialogue, and yet there's something mysterious about him...
Selleck: Yeah. He's a widower. He's lonely. He lost his wife five years before the series started, and he lost his son a year [ago]. So he's complex.

TV Guide Magazine: Are we going to find out that Frank is some kind of grand Poo-Bah of the society of cops, the Blue Templars?
Selleck: I don't know! [Creators] Robin [Green] and Mitch [Burgess] are protective of that stuff.

TV Guide Magazine: Is it ever mentioned how his wife died?
Selleck: No. I keep trying to pin down the writers. I would like to know. My feeling is it was one of two things: a tragic disease or an accident.

TV Guide Magazine: Or the Blue Templars.
Selleck: No! Not the Blue Templars! Actually, I can't say that. I don't know.

TV Guide Magazine: What's the status of the Jesse Stone franchise? Was there ever any discussion of that being a series?
Selleck: In some ways Jesse Stone is a series, but it's a series of movies. No. 7 is done and ready to go. It's called Innocents Lost. I think CBS will wait till spring to air it because of Blue Bloods. Hopefully, Blue Bloods will get renewed and we'll shoot [Jesse Stone's] No. 8 during the next hiatus.

TV Guide Magazine: You've been associated with right-wing causes for many years. Is it just coincidence that you wound up playing a character named Frank Reagan?
Selleck: I've actually been a registered Independent for 20 years, but the name is a coincidence. The show was originally called Reagan's Law. But I knew Ronald Reagan and his wife, so it was a little ironic.

TV Guide Magazine: Think you'll ever play Magnum again?
Selleck: I keep hearing about a movie. Universal has the rights, and they don't call and they don't write. That said, if you took a poll tomorrow as to who should play him, I can almost guarantee that I would win. My fear is, we see too many examples of studios buying the rights to a franchise, then spending $100 million on explosions and trivializing and making fun of it. Magnum's in the Smithsonian, and for a very serious reason. It was the first show to portray Vietnam veterans in a positive light. I'm very proud of that.

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