Little Boy Blue

UPDATED 06/25/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/25/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

Even when Austin Majors was just a baby, his mom had a hunch he had star qualities. "Whenever I'd go to the grocery store," Karrie Majors remembers, "there was a crowd gathered around my shopping basket. Austin was a natural-born actor."

Now 5, Austin is proving himself in front of a much larger audience—as Andy Sipowicz's son on TV's NYPD Blue. Two years ago Karrie, a 31-year-old pediatric nurse, started taking her budding Brando to Hollywood auditions 2½ hours south of their Ridgecrest, Calif., ranch house. (His father, BJ, 27, is in law enforcement; sis Kali is 21 months old.) Austin got commercials right away and soon nailed his heart-tugging NYPD Blue part as Theo Sipowicz, who was diagnosed with leukemia last year. A bit of a downer? Not for Austin. "I love this so much," he gushes. "I get to act!" Says costar and TV dad Dennis Franz: "He thinks about coming on the set as if he's coming to a playground."

In fact, for Austin the only downside is having to go home. (He can work up to 6½ hours a day and has an on-set tutor.) Happily for him, producers have promised another full season, Blue's ninth, come fall. There is only one problem. When Austin's on the set, "we have to watch what we say," says Franz. "No cussing."

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