Why Tom Selleck won’t call his most iconic TV show by its real name

Tom Selleck has opened up about his time on Magnum PI, and why he has always refused to say the show’s full title.
The 79-year-old shot to fame as the private investigator in the hit CBS drama, which ran for eight seasons between 1980 – 1988, and famously turned down Indiana Jones for the role.
He went on to appear in Three Men and a Baby, Friends and Blue Bloods – which is coming to an end after more than a decade on the small screen.


During an appearance at 92NY to celebrate his new memoir, You Never Know, the Hollywood legend unpacked his incredible career, and his memorable first few years in the industry.
Bridget Moynahan, who stars opposite Tom in Blue Bloods, moderated the conversation, and shared: ‘You said no to Magnum but they convinced you…’
‘They kind of weaseled their way in,’ he laughed. ‘Don [Bellisario, co-creator, writer, director and producer] made it really easy and said, “What do you want to do?”
‘I said I want to do something like Rockford, not a perfect of James Bond like… – which was a script I turned down – I want him to have flaws.
‘That’s the most interesting thing I find in any character. He said, “Say no more”. And about two weeks later, it’s really fast, I got to read the best two-hour movie script I’d ever had.’
After a long wait, Magnum PI finally got the go-ahead, with Tom in the lead role while Don and co-creator Glen Larson worked on the script and production.
However, just before the show premiered, the star was told that TV bosses had decided to tweak the title slightly – to something he was uncomfortable with.
Sharing his ‘pet peeve’, he continued: ‘Don calls me, the show was picked up, but then the actors went on strike. He tells me the studio wants to change the title to Magnum PI.
‘I said that’s a horrible title. Where did they get that idea? Well, it turned out with Glen Larson’s script, the character was named Harry Magnum.
‘Basically, they were afraid they were going to get sued by Clint Eastwood, because he did the movie Magnum Force. But the problem is this – I lived in Hawaii for quite a while, while the actors strike was going on.
‘[In Hawaii] PI is less than flattering term for a Philippine Islander. I said, “Do they know that?” It’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s slang…’
Although the title was officially listed as Magnum PI, Tom personally stood his ground, claiming he has never uttered the full name.
‘[But] I refused, my record is I think spotless,’ he added, urging others to do the same.
‘I never call it Magnum PI – and if you want to change the way you call that show, I’d be very, very happy.’
Tom starred as Thomas Magnum for eight seasons before the series ended in May, 1988.
Following this, he also delighted audiences as Monica Geller’s former partner, Richard Burke, in 10 episodes of Friends, and portrayed Frank Reagan in Blue Bloods for over a decade.
Sadly, the police procedural drama has been axed after 14 years, with the show’s official Twitter account confirming the news in November.
Addressing the axe in a heartfelt statement, Tom penned: ‘For the past 13 years it has been an honor and a privilege to work on a show that not only celebrates the men and women who protect and serve in New York City, but also displayed the importance of family.
‘Working alongside these incredible actors, writers, producers, directors and crew has been a dream come true and I’m grateful to have been a part of this extraordinary group for over 275 episodes.
‘Thank you to CBS Studios and CBS Network for their steadfast support and we offer heartfelt gratitude to the fans who gathered with us for dinner every Friday night.’

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