Neal Baer, who has made a name for himself creating television with a focus on medical issues, doesn’t draw the line at the saying “write what you know.” Rather the “Under the Dome” showrunner, who graduated from Harvard Medical School, has gotten hands-on with the idea, working with the Venice Family Clinic, and supporting its efforts to care for low-income residents and those who historically have been without health care.
Baer began working with the clinic while completing his internship in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, at the same time he was a member of the writers room on “ER.” Venice was the only free clinic open on weekends — and the only time a young med student-slash-television writer was free to log extra hours. “I was really inspired,” he says. “It’s the largest free family clinic, and one of the oldest in the country.”
Now, Baer works to support the clinic financially, including being a committee member for events such as the Silver Circle Gala, where CBS chief Leslie Moonves will receive the clinic’s Humanitarian Award March 9. “It’s good to bring new folks in to see what we do,” Baer says.
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But the producer isn’t the only entertainment vet to donate time to the clinic. Chuck Lorre, Vince Gilligan and Anjelica Huston are among those who take part in fundraising and shed light on the work the clinic does. “There are real results,” Baer says, “and the money goes to caring for people who couldn’t get health care any other way.”
Baer continues to focus on telling stories that bring awareness to medical issues. His 2009 documentary short “Home Is Where You Find It” focused on AIDS orphans in Mozambique, and his latest project, “The Three Behrs,” is about a trio of doctors at a prominent New York City hospital.
“I think storytelling is the most powerful way to change behavior, and you can’t change behavior unless you inform about issues,” he says. “I see stories as the impetus and the stepping stone for social change.”