Larry Manetti and Tom Selleck reunite on ‘Blue Bloods’ for a special case written just for the friends of 45 years.
It’s 35 years since the original Magnum, P.I. went off the air, but stars Tom Selleck, who played Magnum and Larry Manetti, who played Rick, are still friends. So much so, that Selleck arranged for Manetti to guest star on tonight’s episode of Blue Bloods.
“Tom Selleck said to the main executive producer, Kevin Wade, ‘I’d like to find a role for my friend Larry Manetti,’” Manetti tells Parade in this exclusive interview. “That was a year or two years ago. Kevin Wade had an accident and hurt his neck and was operated on, so he was cruising television and watched me on several different shows and said to his writers, ‘This Manetti, I’d like to get him on the show. He’s a great character.’”
So, the role of Sam Velucci that Manetti is playing on tonight’s “Family Matters” episode was written specifically for him. The only disappointing thing for fans is that the two men don’t have a scene together. Rather, Selleck felt that that might be too distracting to Blue Blood viewers, so instead, Manetti has the majority of his scenes with Vanessa Ray, who plays Eddie.
In the episode, Eddie enlists Jamie’s (Will Estes) help to bust a drug dealer responsible for fentanyl overdoses in order to comfort a grieving former NYPD police officer (Manetti) who lost his grandson to an overdose.
“She was wonderful,” Manetti recalls. “Everybody on that show was the best, and I mean that from my heart. I had such a good time; they could not do enough for me. They had an assistant for me, which blew me away, and I didn’t have to do one thing. Vanessa was a marvelous, marvelous actress, and just perky. I’m going to call her right after the show airs and congratulate her.”
Selleck and Manetti may not have had any scenes together, but that didn’t keep Selleck from rolling out the red carpet for his longtime friend. He shared his office dressing room with Manetti and his wife Nancy, and they had dinner at Selleck’s favorite Italian restaurant every night for the week that Manetti was in town.
“No other star in a show or a movie does that and I’ve been in the business 50 years,” Manetti said. “They broke the mold when they made him. We speak without doubt once or twice a week and have since 1978. He’s like my brother. He’s the most. He’s like a sweet bar of chocolate.”
In the interim since Magnum, P.I. went off the air, Manetti has written a five-star reviewed book, Aloha Magnum, which is available for purchase on LarryManetti.com, all about the ins and outs of Magnum, the cast, and the inside exploits.
One great story from Manetti’s time on the series is how he got Frank Sinatra to guest star. Here’s the tale in his own words:
“We were doing Magnum and Frank was coming in to do a concert, so he invited Tom and I to go to the concert. Let me back up a little. I knew Frank Sinatra way before he came to Hawaii to do the concert. So, after the concert we all went to dinner, and while we were having dinner Frank is telling stories about [what he saw on] Magnum. ‘And you guys did this, and this guest star, and Barbara Rush,’ and so on. So, I finally elbowed Frank and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you do the show?’ And he says, ‘Junior, I thought you were going to never ask.’
“So, then I told the studio and Tom was there, he was excited. The studio assigned a writer, and her name was Chris Abbott and she wrote a script. Frank sent his private jet, I got on the jet, and flew to Palm Springs where he lived and gave him the script. He went into his office, and I sat and waited. He read the script and he looked at me and he said, ‘It’s a keeper, Junior. I love it.’ And that was it. Then he flew to Hawaii and did the show, and we had a marvelous time.
“And one day I was coming out of the stage door and his arm grabbed me from nowhere. I looked over and I said, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Get in the car, Junior. We’re going to go to lunch.’ So, I figured if it’s Frank telling me this, we’re going to lunch without giving any second thought. So, we went to this Italian restaurant called Sergio’s, which wasn’t open. When we got in there, Sergio was cleaning tables and fixing the place up. And he looked up and saw Sinatra and he went, ‘Oh, mamma mia! Oh, my God.’ He says, ‘I’m going to have a heart attack.’ Frank says, ‘Easy boy, sit down.’
“We ordered lunch, and while we’re eating lunch, I hear these radios outside coming into the door, and it was the studio talking to these Hawaiian drivers. They come in the door and I went, ‘Uh oh,’ and they said, ‘You guys are in a lot of trouble.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘You’re holding the company up. We can’t find you.’ And I said, ‘Wait, Frank said there’s lunch.’ ‘No lunch!’ He says, ‘We’re taking lunch off today.’ So, I put my head down and I said, ‘They’re going to kill me.’ I thought Selleck was going to fry me in a pan. But anyway, it all worked out.”