For 'Blue Bloods' and Donnie Wahlberg, success is easy as pie

By David Hiltbrand

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 3 2012 3:39 p.m. MST

Back in August, Wahlberg, a single father, brought his older son, Xavier, 18, to Philadelphia for a distinctly un-New Kids concert.

"It was a 12-hour festival called 'This Is Hardcore.' I was thinking I was going to find him that night with two broken arms and a broken nose. I had 10 hours to kill."

While he was hanging at McFadden's, the owner took him to Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies had a home game.

"They walked me right into the clubhouse with all the players," he says. "I was telling jokes with Shane Victorino and talking to Ryan Howard. Jimmy Rollins is like my favorite player outside of Boston. I like his game."

If you're getting the idea that Wahlberg is a big sports fan, multiply that by eight (Carl Yastrzemski's old number).

During the interview, Wahlberg has ESPN on the large flat-screen TV in his dressing room. The sound is muted, but his eyes flick up every minute or so to see if a "SportsCenter" report concerns his beloved Beantown teams.

"I'm Boston all the way," he says. "Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox. I love the Boston-Philly rivalries because the two cities respect each other. We both live in the shadow of New York."

Wahlberg's career has taken him from the acclaimed miniseries "Band of Brothers" to three of the "Saw" splatter films. He has acted alongside everyone from Tupac Shakur to Robert De Niro, James Franco to Mel Gibson.

No part has ever fit him as perfectly as "Blue Bloods'" intense Danny Reagan, an Iraq war vet who takes his jobs as a cop, husband and father very seriously.

"When he works on this show, he is Emmy material," says Amy Carlson, who plays his wife, Linda. "He lives this character in such a visceral way, it really resonates on the screen."

"Tom is the face of the show," says Bridget Moynihan, who plays Danny's sister, Erin, "but Donnie is the engine that keeps everything going."

Of course, you have to stoke an engine.

"The whole cast, they're all really good actors, committed actors," says Selleck. "Donnie leads by example."

Wahlberg is often asked whether he is envious of his younger brother, Mark, who has achieved enormous success as an actor and producer in Hollywood.

He maintains he's eternally grateful that he was able to give Mark's career a kick-start back when it seemed that the youngest of the Wahlbergs was destined to become the baddest seed in the clan.

"I always say I'd rather visit him in a 25,000-foot mansion than in a 10-foot prison cell. I literally have had moments where I sit around thinking 'what if' and I get a pit in my stomach at the thought of my baby brother being locked up somewhere," Wahlberg says, voice catching, eyes misting.

Besides, he's pretty content with the measure of success he's achieved for himself.

"Hey, I just played a sold-out arena tour, a sold-out Fenway Park," he says, grinning. "I'm shooting one of the 20 most-watched television shows in the country, seen in 25 countries around the world.

"And I can still put on shades and baseball cap and walk into Target with my kids and nobody knows who I am. I love that. Love it."

Dist. by MCT Information Services

WEDNESDAY ON TV

College football (6:30 p.m., ESPN): Clemson vs. West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl

I Get That a Lot (7 p.m., Ch. 2): Celebrities pull pranks on unsuspecting people.

The Middle (7 p.m., Ch. 4): Frankie decides that each family member will have a New Year's resolution assigned anonymously.

Modern Family (8 p.m., Ch. 4): Phil misses a call from his doctor with test results.

NOVA (8 p.m., Ch. 7): Scientists attempt to determine when volcanic eruptions might occur and how dangerous they may be.

Mobbed (8 p.m., Ch. 13): Howie Mandel and hundreds of strangers help a man reveal his feelings to his long-distance best friend.

CSI (9 p.m., Ch. 2): Stokes discovers decomposing body parts in part of an art exhibit

Revenge (9 p.m., Ch. 4): An unstable visitor crashes Daniel's birthday party.

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