Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hollywood, Health and Society

I attended a Hollywood, Health and Society event last week at the Writers Guild of America building on Fairfax and 3rd. Hollywood, Health and Society is a free program at USC's Norman Lear/ Annaberg Center that provides science and medical information resources and consultations to writers and producers for TV or film. The program is funded by the CDC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There was a presentation by Dr. Tachi Yamada of the Bill and Melinada Gates Foundation then a panel discussion with Dr. Nael Baer (a writer who returned to med. school and became a pediatrician then returned to writing/producing ER, Law & Order: SVU), Peter Blake(House) and J. David(Numb3rs) and two other medical doctors. The writers showed video clips of their shows that had health or medical story-lines from HIV, infectious diseases and organ donation.

The panellist and presentations were great and it was especially nice to meet other pediatricians interested in health and the entertainment industry. I am not at all surprised that pediatricians were in a majority, as we've been on to the importance of media and health for decades. I recall the "Media Matters" campaign by the AAP and something similar through the APHA but I think the best way for us to affect media is to have doctors involved in the creative process (consulting, writing, producing and advocating) ala Neal Baer.

I was thinking of attending Pediatric Grand Rounds to keep my feet in clinical medicine but after the panel I see it as a good way of finding story ideas. The panel also had great story ideas! In fact, I raced home after the panel to flesh out a malaria script I was already working on but now with an added twist. I have also finished a spec. script for House that I am submitting to various contests which involves Down Syndrome and blood disorders. I submitted my Grey's Anatomy script last year to the Disney/ABC fellowship but didn't get it. Then I submitted it for coverage and got fair to good coverage on it, the main complaint being my formatting. I am also turning a feature script I wrote into a spec. pilot as Ellen Sandler (Everybody loves Raymond) suggests (get her book, The TV Writer's Workbook ). As Neal said on the panel, 'getting the medical right is most important" but doing it in 65 character driven pages is definitely a challenge.

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