SPECIAL REPORT: A behind-the-scenes look on the set of Blue Bloods
NEW YORK CITY (CBS 58) - The hit CBS drama Blue Bloods has owned Friday nights for 9 seasons, and the show’s biggest name says they are not slowing down.
We recently flew to New York City to talk to Tom Selleck on set, and got a behind-the-scenes look at how they put the show together.
Selleck already had a successful career before joining the cast of Blue Bloods.
He plays the NYPD Commissioner and Reagan family patriarch.
The day we were on set, the family was shooting the famous dinner scene that airs in every episode.
In each one of those scenes, Selleck is at the head of the table.
“It seems to be one of, or the most favorite thing for our audience is when family gets together for our weekly dinner,” said Selleck.
The show has been a Friday night staple since 2010, with a brief stop on Wednesday nights.
Selleck knew from the first time he read the script that he wanted to be a part of the show.
“To me this was a show that interested me, I thought it had the potential for this,” said Selleck.
He plays a father and grandfather on the show, but as we learned when we visited the set, he plays a similar role between takes as well.
“I do like the idea of playing a patriarch who is present, and engaged,” said Selleck.
“He’s our leader on and off set,” said Will Estes, who plays Selleck’s on screen son Jamie Reagan.
“He’s the best, Tom is like the coolest,” said Vanessa Ray who plays Jamie’s fiancé Edit “Eddie” Janko.
Cast members talked about how special it is to work with Selleck.
“We get to work with this amazing actor, that’s something that we don’t talk about enough, we talk about this incredible career and all these things but he’s an amazing actor,” said Ray.
“He has been such an influence in my life, not only in terms of helping me develop as an actor, but academically as I went through college,” said Sami Gayle who plays Nicole Reagan-Doyle, Selleck’s granddaughter on the show.
Selleck says one of the reason’s the show has had such a long run, is the feeling of family. It’s something that is highlighted every week in that dinner scene.
“Most people don’t have the time for that anymore, or they never had it and they wish they did, or they had it once and they can’t do it anymore and I think all that is part of the nostalgia of enjoying that,” said Selleck.
“The inspiration for the scene is Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening post drawing of a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Len Cariou who plays Selleck’s on screen father and former NYPD Commissioner Henry Reagan.
“Something about that resonates for people, something that maybe, they want to get back to, I think we had more of that in the past,” said Estes.
While most family dinners last an hour or so, the Blue Bloods dinners take a lot longer.
“We embrace family dinner, the only problem is it takes 6 to 8 hours and you have to just keep eating the same old food,” said Selleck.
“You gotta pace yourself,” laughed Estes.
“I dove in way too fast, I thought I knew what I was going to do, I thought I was just going to have the cucumbers and it’s going to be fine,” laughed Ray.
“We peel and chop a lot of cucumbers,” said Jim Lillis, the prop master for the show.
It’s the props department that handles all the food for that dinner scene, and most of the time they decide what the Reagan’s will eat that day too.
“There’s always potatoes, there’s always a vegetable, there’s always a roll, there’s always salad,” said Lillis.
The day we were on set, an entire scene centered around pie.
“Today we had Henry having an extra piece of pie, so we had a dozen full pies,” said Lillis, “he’s not eating a dozen full pies but you gotta be ready, and they won’t go to waste.”
It’s all part of making the show look as authentic as possible, which is why they have a former New York City police officer on set.
“I am the technical advisor on the show for all things police related,” said James Nuciforo who spent more than 20 years in law enforcement before joining the show.
He focuses on everything from where a pin is located on a lapel, to how cops talk on the show.
“Let’s say a 56 page script, I’ll give them anywhere between 5-10 pages of notes on the script, just plugging in dialogue with more jargon,” said Nuciforo.
He meets with members of the NYPD every day, and that’s important because they know New York Cops are watching.
“We get a lot of positive response from police officers, my hero’s and I think that’s a wonderful compliment,” said Selleck.
“They say thank you for your show, we love it because it makes us look like human beings,” said Cairou.
“That’s like the coolest part of my job,” said Ray, “when I walk down the street and the NYPD guys are like, ‘Are you Eddie Jenko? Can I get a picture?!’ And I’m like can I get a picture with you?”
That’s not the only feedback they get on the street, New Yorkers aren’t shy either.
“New Yorkers are pretty blunt about whether they like something or not, it’s invaluable feedback,” said Selleck.
What resonates for many people is the authentic family.
“A lot in our world we see people fighting all the time, and we don’t really get to watch people resolve things,” said Ray.
“Something’s always coming between the Reagans, it’s just they overcome that,” said Selleck.
It’s a formula that works, and the reason you see the same Reagan’s at the dinner table every week.
“I love this show and I want to keep doing it,” said Selleck.
Every cast member we talked to said they would like to see a Season 10, but no one knew if that would happen. Selleck said right now no one is under contract for another season, but that could change.
We were there for the dinner scene, which is the only time all the cast is on set. They said it’s a nice time to catch up with each other.
Interesting fact, the cast uses plastic forks and knives in the scene. They used real silverware at the beginning, but all the clinking on the plate was being picked up by studio microphones.
Selleck shared that in season 3, he tried to slice a chicken cutlet and his knife broke. He picked up the food and threw it across the set. “How many people have thrown a cutlet across the room?” Selleck joked, “I didn’t hit anybody.”
The technical advisor on the show is also an Associate Producer, and he’s written an episode. He meets with NYPD regularly to keep up to day on all the new technology for the NYPD.
Blue Bloods airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. on CBS 58.