If Tom Selleck had his way, Jesse Stone would be the new Lt. Columbo.
Selleck at present is in Halifax, Nova Scotia shooting the seventh installment of the “Jesse Stone” telepic series for CBS and Sony Pictures TV. The made-fors, based on the series of crime novels by Robert B. Parker, revolve around the maverick police chief of the fictional town of Paradise, Mass.
The telepics are standalone hard-boiled crime stories, but Selleck has gotten under the skin of his unconventional character who battles personal demons as well as criminal adversaries. Selleck, who is a longtime devotee of Parker’s work, has an active role in shaping the scripts and producing the pics in the secluded environs of Halifax.
With so much invested in the role, Selleck would love to see CBS sked two “Jesse Stone” pics a season, which would allow fans to check in regularly with the character in the same way NBC and ABC skedded Peter Falk’s “Columbo” telepics in the 1970s and ’80s (though “Columbo” in its mid-’70s heyday did as many as six to eight episodes per season).
The aud for “Jesse Stone” has been mature but dependable since the first pic, “Stone Cold,” bowed in 2005 with more than 18 million viewers. The subsequent titles have hovered between 13 million-15 million viewers. It’s the closest thing to a recurring original movie franchise that network TV has at a time when longform fare is at a low ebb on the broadcast airwaves.