Given the multifaceted concerns about health care in America, it’s no surprise that the Daytime Emmys is getting more honorees in the medical and health-related genre.
“The Dr. Oz Show” has risen to prominence, especially in the post-“Oprah Winfrey Show” era, winning a Daytime Emmy in talkshow/informative and its second consecutive host kudo a year ago, while “The Doctors” has been nominated for three Daytime Emmys (with one win) in talkshow/informative since its 2008 premiere.
The latter skein “definitely filled a need,” according to exec producer Carla Pennington.
“There wasn’t anything out there in terms of relaying medical information in an entertaining way,” Pennington says. “I felt like there was a place for it. It came at a time when health insurance was questionable.”
J.D. Roth says the inspiration for “The Revolution,” the freshman ABC show he exec produces that has a panel promoting overall wellness, didn’t come from other daytime medical talk shows, but rather a desire to flesh out topics he addresses on weekly nighttime shows that he produces, such as “The Biggest Loser.”
“Primetime shows are about eliminations and are entertainment-driven,” Roth says. “There’s so much knowledge about how people can utilize (weight-loss techniques) in their own lives. We thought it’d be great to show the process (on a daytime show).”
While “The Doctors'” panel comprises four medical doctors who have different specialties, “The Revolution” has differentiated itself by having its panelists be authorities in multiple aspects of life.
“We’re different because our show represents a modern and more complex way of approaching every day issues,” says “The Revolution” physician Dr. Jennifer Ashton. “A person who may be battling depression can use not only a therapist’s input, but also a medical doctor’s and maybe even help from style, fitness and environment experts, too.”
There’s universal agreement on the fact that a medical-themed talk show neither could nor should replace a viewer making a visit to an actual doctor.
“No doctor on television is going to practice medicine over the airwaves,” says Ashton. “I try to communicate and educate. That’s what all doctors should be doing, whether it’s on television or in their office.”
Says “Doctors” exec producer Jay McGraw: “We’re trying to make our audience a more informed consumer of medical information and treatment.”
The success of “The Doctors” since its 2008 premiere has helped encourage other takes on health programming. McGraw, Roth and Pennington say they don’t spend a great deal of time checking out the competition, however.
“I have a great deal of respect for ‘Dr. Oz,’?” says McGraw. “But I don’t think it matters what the other shows are doing. We have core beliefs that we try to stick with. We try to present information that is not only interesting, but usable.”
“I was at ‘Entertainment Tonight’ when ‘Access: Hollywood’ came along,” Pennington recalls. “But I don’t look to the right or the left. I just look forward and focus on what we’re producing.”