The role of a Lifetime

Thesp joining sixth season of 'Strong Medicine'

Rick Schroder has joined the cast of Lifetime’s original drama “Strong Medicine,” marking the first time the cabler has cast a man in a series lead role.

He will join the series’ sixth season, slated to premiere in June. Lifetime exec VP-general manager Rick Haskins said Schroder will play a male doctor but that producers are still hammering out his character and storylines. Thesp has signed on to appear in most, if not all, of the season’s 22 episodes.

“From a creative perspective, I think the addition of a male doctor will be an interesting way to explore the show’s subject, women’s medicine,” Haskins said. “We talked to our viewers, and they’ve told us they like men and would like to see them more on our air — I don’t think that’d be a bad thing for Lifetime at all.”

Schroder replaces Patricia Richardson, who will not be back for the upcoming season. Launched in 2000, “Strong Medicine” explores the ongoing struggles of dedicated physicians played by Richardson and Rosa Blasi-Finn. Haskins noted that “Rosa will remain the heart of the show, but Rick will be a good counterpoint.”

Haskins, meanwhile, is busy developing several dramas and comedies that feature prominent parts for men. They include a laffer from Debi Gutierrez, inspired by her experiences raising three children with the help of both her current husband and ex-husband, and Efrem Seeger’s drama project “The Hunters,” about a family of spies (Daily Variety, Feb. 11).

Last season of “Strong Medicine” averaged 2.3 million total viewers. Sony Pictures TV produces.

Schroder last starred in three seasons of “NYPD Blue.” He next toplines the TNT hospital thriller “14 Hours” with JoBeth Williams.

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