Tom Selleck

By Tony Rizzo
HOLLYWOOD — In the 1970s, I met an actor in the contract program of 20th Century Fox. They gave him small parts with a few lines until his big break came in the movie “Coma” — he played a corpse. Next came a contract at Universal Studios, where his six TV pilots didn’t sell. Steven Spielberg wanted him to star as Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” With five days left on his contract, Universal talked CBS into buying a show, starring him, without a pilot, and off he went to Hawaii to shoot the series. Then, the Screen Actor’s Guild called a strike, and he sat there, unable to work on the series, doing landscaping to pay his rent. As soon as the strike was over, “Magnum P.I.” became a mega hit. The actor — if you haven’t already guessed — was Tom Selleck.

Post-“Magnum” he became a bona fide movie star because of films like “Three Men and a Baby.” In 2005, Tom became Jesse Stone, the police officer in Robert B. Parker’s series of novels. “Stone Cold” (the fourth book) was the first to air, followed by “Night Passage” (the first book), “Death in Paradise (third book out) and “Sea Change” (fifth book). Next came “Thin Ice” and “No Remorse,” original stories written by Selleck and Michael Brandman. All are available on DVD. Next up is “Innocents Lost,” also written by Selleck and Brandman and filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It will air on Monday, May 9. CBS is so happy that it’s ordered an eighth film.

Tom passed on turning Jesse Stone into a weekly series, so CBS came up with “Blue Bloods,” his new hit series. It did so well in its Wednesday-night time slot that CBS should put it there permanently. In the 40 years I’ve known Tom Selleck, I’ve always found him to be a regular guy who just happens to be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Watch his show once, and you’ll be hooked.
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When “Dancing With the Stars” returns on March 12 for its 12th season, it will be without three-time professional winner Derek Hough and his sister, two-time winner Julianne Hough. Derek will be filming “Cobu-3D” with Asian star BoA. It’s a modern Romeo and Juliet story, not unlike the recent “Step Up 3D” film. Julianne was in “Burlesque” and is starring in the new “Footloose,” due out in October. She’s currently dating “American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest. Mentioned for Season 12 are “Barnaby Jones” beauty Lee Meriwether, Charlie Sheen’s ex, Brooke Mueller, and “Falcon Crest”/”Renegade” star Lorenzo Lamas. They should change the name of the show to “Dancing With Celebrities,” because it rarely gets big-name stars!

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© 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.