Jesse Stone (character)
Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone (DVD cover)
|Created by||Robert B. Parker|
|Portrayed by||Tom Selleck|
|Occupation||Law enforcement officer|
Jesse Stone is the lead character in a series of detective novels written by Robert B. Parker. They were among his last works, and the first series in which the novelist used the third-person narrative. The series consists of nine books, starting with Night Passage (1997) and ending with Split Image (2010), which Parker completed before his death in January 2010 but did not live to see published. The series has been continued by Michael Brandman. The novels have been adapted as eight TV films by CBS, airing from 2005 to 2012.
The Jesse Stone character starts out at about 35 years old. A former minor league baseball shortstop, who injures the shoulder of his throwing arm, he was raised in Arizona and California. Having been dumped by his beautiful wife, Jennifer Stone (Gillian Anderson), he was asked to resign from his job as a homicide detective for the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division because of a drinking problem that begins after his divorce. Showing up drunk to an interview for a job as police chief for the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts (loosely based on the real town of Swampscott, Massachusetts), Stone is hired because the corrupt president of the town board of selectmen thinks he will be easy to control. Stone quickly notices that the town has big league crimes, struggling with the mob, white supremacists, wildly errant wives and a triple homicide, and that his job will be more difficult than he expected. But, he proves up to the task, beginning with making a corruption case against the town council president and arresting him.
The series chronicles Stone's cases as chief of the Paradise Police Department, as well as his struggles with alcohol and his complicated relationship with his ex-wife Jenn. He is respected and well liked by the police officers in the town police department. He develops a good working relationship and friendship with the State Police Homicide Commander, Captain Healy.
The character of Jesse Stone, a deeply troubled man, was a departure for the author. Parker, comparing Stone to Spenser, the protagonist of his first series and the one for which he was best known, said, "Jesse is a much more damaged individual who is coming to terms with himself as he goes along."
By Robert B. Parker:
- Night Passage (September 1997) ISBN 978-0-399-14304-5
- Trouble in Paradise (September 1998) ISBN 978-0-399-14433-2
- Death in Paradise (October 2001) ISBN 978-0-399-14779-1
- Stone Cold (October 2003) ISBN 978-0-399-15087-6
- Sea Change (February 2006) ISBN 978-0-399-15267-2
- High Profile (February 2007) ISBN 978-0-399-15404-1
- Stranger In Paradise (February 2008) ISBN 978-0-399-15460-7
- Night and Day (February 2009) ISBN 978-0-399-15541-3
- Split Image (February 2010) ISBN 978-0-399-15623-6
By Michael Brandman:
- Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues (September 2011) ISBN 978-0-399-15784-4
- Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice (September 2012) ISBN 978-0-399-15949-7
- Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do (September 2013) ISBN 978-0-399-15950-3
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CBS has adapted the Jesse Stone novels as a series of movie specials starring Tom Selleck in the title role; the first was aired in 2005 and the last in 2012. Robert Harmon has directed all but one of the films (Dick Lowry directed Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost), and Jeff Beal has provided original music. Selections from the scores of all the movies to date were released on a limited edition CD by Varèse Sarabande in 2009.
The movies begin out of sequence but stay relatively true to storylines and character, with exceptions made mostly for television network viewing. With the fifth film, Selleck and Michael Brandman took over the screen writing, and took the films in new directions. The town council forced Jesse Stone out of his job as the Paradise Chief of Police. The council dubbed it "early retirement" and granted Stone a partial pension. (As a retired sworn officer, Stone was also granted the right to carry concealed firearms, without having a "concealed carry" permit, which he usually did). The head of the town council wanted to install his son-in-law as the new police chief.
Captain Healey hires Stone as an occasional "temporary consultant" to assist on certain state police investigations. Stone insists that he will get back his old job as chief. In the eighth film of the series, Stone is restored as the Chief of Police after the incumbent is murdered. The chairman of the town council asks Stone to return as Chief and catch the killer. Stone's buddy, his Golden Retriever Reggie (played by Joe the dog), watches over Stone and plays an important supporting role in the series.
Tom Selleck plays the character as straight from the novels as possible; he is older (late fifties/early sixties vs. late thirties in the books) than Stone. The author, Robert B. Parker, said that he found the Jesse Stone movies the most accurate television adaptations of his novels. On his blog, he wrote that "Tom nails the character".
As Police Chief Stone, Tom Selleck carries a Smith & Wesson Model SW1911SC .45 pistol. Selleck is a veteran soldier and a skilled shooter; he collects firearms. Most of the characters that Selleck has portrayed in television who carry a sidearm have carried a type of Model 1911A1 .45 pistol. In the early novels, Stone usually carries a .38 Special Smith & Wesson Model 36 snub-nosed revolver; the same firearm which he had used as a homicide detective with the LAPD. (Parker's private detective character Spenser also carried a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Model 36 .38 Special revolver in the first thirteen "Spenser" novels.) In Parker's Killing the Blues, Stone has started carrying a 1911A1 Colt Commander .45 pistol.
The cast of the films has included the following regular characters:
- Viola Davis as Police Officer Molly Crane,
- Kohl Sudduth as Police Officer Luther "Suitcase" Simpson, and
- Vito Rezza as Police Officer Anthony D'Angelo (as fellow members of the Paradise Police Department). The character of Anthony D'Angelo was no longer a member of the department by the time of the 5th film Thin Ice, having quit at the urging of Chief Stone.
The character of Molly Crane was discontinued in that film, too. This was due to scheduling conflicts Davis had with other film projects, resulting her leaving the series. In the Jesse Stone storyline, she was said to have quit the department to raise a family after becoming pregnant.
- Police Officer Rose Gammon, portrayed by Kathy Baker, replaces Molly Crane.
- Stephen McHattie appears occasionally as Captain Healy, head of the Massachusetts State Police Homicide Division
- William Devane plays Dr. Dix, a former cop turned psychiatrist, whom Stone sees for help with his drinking and other personal issues.
- Saul Rubinek has a recurring role as Hastings "Hasty" Hathaway, the formerly corrupt town council president who later develops a positive relationship with Stone.
- Stone Cold (February 20, 2005)
- Jesse Stone: Night Passage (January 15, 2006) a prequel to Stone Cold
- Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise (April 30, 2006)
- Jesse Stone: Sea Change (May 22, 2007)
- Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (March 1, 2009)
- Jesse Stone: No Remorse (May 9, 2010)
- Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (May 22, 2011)
- Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt (May 20, 2012)
Uncertain future for the TV series
Although Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt attracted nearly 13 million viewers when CBS aired it on May 20, 2012, producer Michael Brandman told Variety a few days later that he and Tom Selleck had been notified that CBS would not be ordering any more episodes. They said the film attracted older viewers, and CBS is moving away from movies and specials in favor of shorter duration TV series. Selleck noted that the movies were expensive to produce, and he had his own money invested in the last few. Selleck said he was not finished with the Stone character. when interviewed by NBCs "Popcornbiz" in August 2012, he said,
"Well, right now CBS hasn't ordered another one. That's nothing new. They always seem to order them one at a time even though we kind of hit home runs, which is frustrating. So I'm not sure whether this is the last 'Jesse' or not. I don't think it will be, because there are so many other markets, cable and everything, that I think would want the series."
- Shanahan, Mark; Meredith Goldstein (April 28, 2011). "Parker's series live on". Boston Globe.
- Robert B. Parker interview—Penguin Group (Canada)
- Parker, Robert (2006). Blue Screen. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-15351-9
- Robert B. Parker: Selleck and other matters - Typepad. July 2007
- Variety, May 25, 2012: 'Jesse Stone' over at CBS Retrieved 2012-09-01
- Zap2it, May 20, 2012: 'Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt' may be Tom Selleck's last Stone turn at CBS Retrieved 2012-09-01
- 5 NBC Chicago Popcornbiz, Aug 10, 2012: "Tom Selleck Back to his Sleuthing Ways", Retrieved 2012-09-01
- Jesse Stone at Robert Parker's website
- Megan Walsh-Boyle interview with Tom Selleck - TV Guide - May 2007
- Bullets & Beer website - (With list of all of Parker's novels, including Jesse Stone)
- Jesse Stone novels at the Internet Movie Database