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Tom Selleck hopes CBS execs ‘come to their senses’ and save ‘Blue Bloods’ from cancellation

In Entertainment
May 07, 2024

Tom Selleck isn’t counting out Blue Bloods just yet.

Yahoo Entertainment caught up with the actor to talk about his new memoir, You Never Know, out now. He’s in New York filming what CBS says will be the final eight episodes of the crime drama. The seasoned TV star, however, says he isn’t thinking about the end of anything.

“I’m not looking at it as ‘winding down,’” says Selleck, who plays New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan. “I prefer to be optimistic.

Blue Bloods into our 14th season is the third-highest scripted show in all of broadcast,” the Emmy winner continues. “We’re winning our night. We’re performing on Paramount+. So I’m not looking at it as winding down. I’m looking at it as a show that is still rather wildly successful and CBS is gonna come to their senses.”

Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike last year, the 14th season of the show was slashed from its typical 20ish episodes to 10. CBS announced that eight more episodes would be added to the season, airing this fall, but it would be the end of the series. A fan-driven “#SaveBlueBloods” campaign then launched, but CBS Entertainment President Amy Reisenbach said last week there are no plans for that to change.

“It isn’t hard to add a full 15th season instead of just [the] eight shows,” Selleck says.

If Blue Bloods and its famous family dinners do come to an end, Selleck views it as “similar to Magnum, [P.I.]” — the crime drama that made him a Hawaiian-shirt, short shorts-wearing TV megastar in the 1980s — in that both shows would be ending “in rather enormous success. We’re still bringing it, as they say, on Blue Bloods and performing so it’s a little frustrating.”

Tom Selleck's memoir, You Never Know, is out now. (HarperCollins)

Selleck’s memoir, You Never Know, is out now. (HarperCollins)

In his memoir, Selleck details his years playing Thomas Magnum, a Vietnam War veteran who becomes a private eye. The TV finale, which aired in May 1988 after eight seasons, remains one of the most-watched ever with “50.7 million viewers, but who’s counting,” he says with a laugh.

Magnum was definitely a milestone in my life, and forevermore I had a changed life,” he says.

One of the stories in his book is about how, ahead of the Magnum series finale, when much was made of Magnum’s fate, he had some fun at the expense of a tabloid. To set the scene: The “Sexiest Man in America’s” love life was tabloid fodder in that era, which after his divorce he found hurtful to his first wife, Jacki Ray, and her son, Kevin Selleck, whom he adopted. So he had a laugh by secretly leaking a fake script that claimed Magnum died in the finale to a tabloid with a note that said: “Tom Selleck is an asshole. Here’s the last scene… Magnum dies.”

“We had fiddled around with the idea in the seventh year where Magnum could die,” he says. “If you think about it, in an hour-series, there’s no jeopardy to the main character. He can get shot at and you can worry for a moment, but the only way you can really deal with real jeopardy to the main character is in a final episode. Then he really could die.

“I was seeing all these rumors [about the finale], and I didn’t have any love for the tabloids,” he continues. “I actually believed you should write the truth. So I conjured this thing up. We made a dummy script with an ending where I die and I wrote that letter so nobody else could get in trouble. It says a lot that they didn’t bother to [fact] check… It was just too good of a story to pass up. So 50.7 million viewers. And not just because of that — Magnum had a huge following — but it sure created some interest.”

Tom Selleck as the titular investigator in the television series 'Magnum, P.I.', circa 1985. He is posing with his red Ferrari 308. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Selleck played the title character in Magnum, P.I. from 1980 to 1988, winning the Lead Actor Emmy Award in 1984. (Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Selleck’s memoir took four years to write — in longhand — because he’s “computer illiterate,” he says. (His wife of 36 years, Jillie Mack, has been known to send texts on his behalf.) In it, he also gets real about how hard it was launching his career, appearing in six TV pilots that didn’t get picked up prior to Magnum. He writes about selling suits in a mall store frequented by Tom Brokaw and Bryant Gumbel to pay the bills and standing in the unemployment line. He refers to it as his decade of learning, feeling each failure was “laying bricks” for the foundation of what has become a successful, decades-long career.

Selleck says that “actors never stop learning” and Blue Bloods, which he started on in 2010 along with castmates Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan and Will Estes, has been another amazing opportunity to grow as he edges toward 80 next year.

“I learned a lot more about the pressure of command,” he says of playing the police commissioner. “Someone who holds the lives of 35,000 people who work for him in their hand… You can’t just walk through a scene and say, ‘Boy, I feel under pressure here.’ I’ve learned more and more about how to communicate that to an audience because [in] Frank’s stories, I don’t handcuff people and shoot people. It’s usually a dilemma and a decision that is really tough to make. So [it’s]: How do I keep the audience inside Frank’s head?”

“But that’s always the way with all acting,” he says. “That’s why I love it. And I’m getting older, so I’m realizing: Play who you are, not who you want to be 20 years ago. There’s a lot of lessons.”

You Never Know: A Memoir is out now.

Selleck discusses his book with his Blue Bloods co-star Bridget Moynahan virtually and in-person via the 92nd Street Y on May 7. Tickets are available here.

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