NBC New Amsterdam's writers – panel session

NBC New Amsterdam's writers - panel session



good one here I'm the new mentor director active answered a man just to confirm you are both in charge of your respective partners team's owner David Schiller is the creator's showrunner executive producer David shellner started his television career on Ed's ouack and Marshall Hershkovitz beloved and once again other credits include Desperate Housewives do no harm Emerald City just to name a few he's an accomplished playwright with plays produced off-broadway and the creator of clone a proper a popular ongoing comic welcome mr. solar welcome next I'd like to welcome mr. dr. David Foster he is our executive producer dr. Foster is a writer and producer working in Los Angeles for over 15 years he graduated from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health he trained as an internist in Beth is Beth Israel Hospital in Boston dr. Foster is additional credits include House Law & Order Special Victims Unit do no harm and scorpion welcome dr. Foster [Applause] next Aaron Ginsberg Aaron Ginsberg is the co-executive producer he's a writer and producer who has worked in television and film in Los Angeles for over a decade mr. Ginsberg was previously a co-executive producer on CW sci-fi series the 100 additional credits include the good guys the finder do no harm intelligence and Burn Notice among others welcome mr. Ginsberg next we have Shirin razzaq who is the co-executive producer Shireen Rezac began her began her professional life in advertising as a high-level media planner in Dallas and New York she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of writing for the small screen her credits include NBC's trauma Undercovers The Secret Circle Rizzoli and Isles Isles and others she wrote the episode we just watched welcome miss Rosa and last but not least Graham Norris Graham is a supervising producer he's also the liaison for the show to multiple medical foundations from Northern California he went to Yale University and earned a college degree in theater studies mr. Norris has worked for the CW's iZombie and several pilots for Warner Brothers welcome mr. Norris [Applause] I'm gonna sit down here and enjoying you guys sit in these all the time right alright so I have a few questions and we'll get started with some of my questions and then we'll toss to the audience for a few questions so you guys be thinking about the questions you might want to ask okay David schöner you helped bring the show to life congratulations on its success what do you think has been the key to making New Amsterdam a hit show and what makes it unique amongst the medical dramas I think I think what makes it unique and successful I think maybe the same thing I think it's how we it's how we hope or wish health care could be as opposed to depicting it how it really is sometimes the impetus for the show was based on a real story Eric Mannheimer was the medical director of Bellevue for 15 years in New York and when I met him I he was telling me the stories of what he did as a medical director I thought surely that's impossible we in the pilot episode of New Amsterdam we used a lot of what he actually did at Bellevue which he fired the entire cardiothoracic surgery department just eliminated it from Bellevue and rebuilt it from the ground up my and story after story about how he could affect change and one of the oldest public hospital in America one of the biggest public hospitals in New York that a change was still possible that there were people out there who actually made a difference was inspired to me so the impetus for the Hamsterdam was to inspire others and to inspire an audience that that change was still possible in this seemingly impossible to change healthcare industry thank you I think that we have a lot in common you know we try to inspire people to donate we inspire people through our process of transplantation and I think we have a lot in common in trying to help tell those stories thank you shin is for dr. foster dr. foster could you talk about your role in the writing team and how you got involved in the entertainment industry as a physician I I came to writing through storytelling really I mean I've always been interested in telling stories in fact that's how I became a doctors because I was interested in listening to people tell their stories and you know if you ask and listen to almost anybody we all have crazy lives once you sort of get in listen to what people have to say and the I've enjoyed being able to take my medical expertise and training and turn that into stories that are hopefully entertaining on television and that people want to watch but also you know provide messages and social meaning that go beyond just the the entertainment of the characters and each other I think that how that translates directly into what we do day-to-day at New Amsterdam is you know we spend a lot of time writing our episodes sort of family-style to to tell these stories and in one of the great things about working as a writer is that though all the people I work with are all incredibly smart and incredibly motivated and worked really hard and we all come up with with ideas good hopefully some of them are good and we we take the best of them and we put them together to make an episode of television but it is just sort of a wonderfully collaborative process thank you thank you Shareen you wrote this episode could you talk about what inspired your storyline a liver transplant recipient so it was a love story for my mom and her and people like you who gave her the extra 10 lives that we 10 years that we had with her because in those 10 years she got to see all of us graduate from college thank you for sharing that thank you I think some have some clean access code make sure you know we usually have clean excess at these events because you know telling stories and sharing our experiences we often you're not the first one to I think all of us here has have shed a few tears reg got me started [Laughter] okay so um I'd like to ask this question of mr. Ginsberg Aaron um when you are writing how do you balance drama and facts that's a good question the thing that's interesting is for four different shows have different you know wavelengths in terms of how you know close to the facts that you want to adhere to on this show we try to be as truthful as we can because the show is trying to instill hope and we don't want to do it if we are we're going so far outside the bounds of what can actually be done then it becomes just fan of fantasy show set in the hospital which is not what we're trying to do so normally what happens is myself or some of the other writers will pitch things that are just absolutely impossible because we don't really know what can be done because we're not medical professionals and then dr. Foster will sort of look at us askance and and then we're shamed it's a lot of shame and we go home and we research a little more and we come back and we we try again we pitch something more and dr. possible answers to actually answers let's you he wants to let you sit out there and be like is that what how you think it works but then he'll help you actually yes yes yes after the third or fourth time oh he is joy out of watching us just you know struggle but then yes he provides answers no but the truth of the matter is that we we want to find a balance between the drama and what often happens in our show is what we am I'm from a family of all doctors I'm the only one who's not a doctor although getting closer right closer practically a doctor now but often times in the storytelling the actual professionals could solve some of these stories a little faster in if you were actually we try to hide some facts so that we can provide some entertainment and guide people who much like myself are not in the profession so we so that is the trick and we want to be truthful while still providing some fun twists and turns for people who wouldn't know otherwise things that I think professionals would know pretty quickly off the bat so along those lines do you seek out experts for consultation around specific medical issues and what is your relationships with those consultants anyone yeah we do it depends on the episode I mean we eric manheimer who shoulder mentioned is he is a resource to the show and he often provides not only he has opinions about things he's experienced at Bellevue Hospital but he would also interest in yes so he has like real-life stories that he's experienced or he's heard of and he will help guide us obviously you have tons of experience we do we do reach out like a our transplant story and four other stories we certainly reach out to to people with with specific knowledge of those areas as the donate life community works with entertainment industry we often talk about helping writers be accurate but we've changed our message to the idea of being authentic do you think that there is a critical difference between accuracy and authenticity authentic see if I could say it there probably would be a difference right yeah I think it sort of goes along lines of what Aaron was talking about earlier about the that the burden of putting a show on television I think used to try to a show like this is you want to capture the emotional truth of any one of these given stories um you asked about speaking to experts in individual subjects that's often one of the most rewarding things not just for the texture of you know biological or procedural fact but getting to some of the emotional nuance that if you had not lived through it you might not know it and I just you know it's an incredible you know it's it's I don't know if this is quite the word but it is it's fun to hear about people's interesting lives and their stories and um and you know things that take five weeks in real life when you know the exigencies of a plot require that this flow it's happening in a day and a half because that's how much time we have that's it that I think that letting that stand in the way of telling a story that adheres in it's you know in its bollocks and its central pillars is that that's really the mission of the thing and you don't want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good my sense for this it's accuracies a tricky word whose accuracy for whom and often there's many different people with different stakeholders around different issues and that type of thing but one of the things that we I think is most valuable is saying I think I love your phrasing about tent it's those trying to be true to the spirit of what what the the situation and what it is that is also like one of the most valuable things in trying to come up with these stories and trying to find things as hearing real-life stories from people because oftentimes you know there are there are hurdles and obstacles that we don't even know about or we could never know about or or you know even I never learned about in medical school or there are just real life examples of what people are going through provides so much fodder for us and things for us to talk about and ideas that spring from that it just that and that's the that even that as you're saying like those stories are so valuable to us and much more valuable than facts sometimes thank you I want to talk about another episode about a young woman with cystic fibrosis it doesn't mention transplantation but it highlights some of the issues facing young people with chronic issues that can lead to a transplant Graham you wrote this episode why did you take on this storyline um well it uh I suppose it actually began selfishly I discovered when I was working on having children that I carry the Cystic Fibrosis gene and that it is you know and that were I to reproduce with somebody who also cared they'd have a 1 in 4 shot of having cystic fibrosis and that just sort of you know I was jumped into my mind is this thing that I've never really given much of a thought about at all that is sort of hovering in my life in a way that I'd maybe never would have stumbled across through sheer luck and I think so many illnesses that not always the ones that get the most press it's that they're all someone's life you know and and as I started researching this more I turned out that one of the um the writers assistant on our show his family turns out to have been deeply touched by cystic fibrosis and and the conversation that that he is his willingness to talk to me about his experience and then to get to talk to everybody about all the different experiences it's it's a real it feels very good and very ATIS and healing to kind of start digging into these things and it it also was when I starts being the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation it was kind enough to offer some insight on this to learn about the specifically about being a young person who is becoming an adult and what it is to be someone who knows that they have a disease that is going to eventually probably be the end of them what that is to go from a child's understanding of it to an adult's understanding of it felt like a very emotional and specific part of the story and that's just the kind of thing that we look for and it makes David shoulder happy when we send him little emails about it yes it was a it felt like exactly the sort of thing that made me very grateful to be working on the show thank you so that person that you were speaking with that's how you brought that authentic voice to that storyline well you know it also helped a lot is our we have a magnificent casting Department in New York that often tries to help us find actors who are who have lived this experience the young actress who played the patient in my episode is herself living with cystic fibrosis and living a just a really cool life and just she's a really inspiring young woman and how awesome to get to her to be able to like you want authenticity that's someone who and she's that's certainly one where you feel that like you really hope you didn't screw it up too badly when you wrote it when you're hating but nicely the actors will tell us that's hard and talking about authenticity when you hire actors who have the disabilities or the diseases that were portraying many times during after we read the script aloud they'll come up to you and say I wasn't sure about this line this was isn't my experience and maybe someone else's but I might suggest something else okay and you get you only get that authenticity when you're when you're committed to to using those actors it's great they find such nice ways to tell you that you've been really insulting unintentionally that's very kind of them really as gift yes that's very kind of them right okay so I have a question for all of you I would like to know for all of you can't how can everyone in this room help you share your stories and how can we highlight your episodes that take the take on donation and Transplant let's just start with somebody I'm gonna call in people I mean just hearing your stories is I when Shireen came to me with the idea I hadn't never heard of a domino transplant I had never I was like this is real like and you know I watch TV I go to the movies and I never seen this before so just hearing your stories and it's measurable any other thoughts I've been enjoying just having drinks taking coffee with people to hear their stories we there's a storyline that I can't talk about but that I met with somebody over our hiatus just to get more information about it and it's inspiring horrifying and uplifting all at the same time and in the hopes that we'll be able to tell that story on our show so you guys are in the writers room right now and the season premieres again or the season starts at game in September September 24th ok September 24th we're all ready ok so I'd like to now ask our attendees and we also may have some questions from our live stream but before I do that I I do have something I have to tell the audience please allow me to remind you that these are television writers and anything you share here is of your own free will today ok if anything you share any part of your story ends up in one of their episodes please just say thank you and and move on I don't expect to be famous don't expect any credit and don't expect to get paid so and this is just a standard disclaimer but I'm sure you all definitely appreciate the thought behind that so we want everybody to be open but we also want to be transparent so can I get that on a t-shirt that I could just wear times yes yes that you can wear it all times so anybody know exactly you know that's me and I can wear that anything you say today is free did you hear that mom all right so can I please is there someone in the audience that would like to come up to the mic I'd like to have you come up one at a time please so we don't get a big long line of everyone but I we are definitely interested in hearing your questions for our guests our guest speakers perfect thank you there's the wall must say thank you so much for being here I have a question for for anyone that's like to answer do you have any future plans of writing another story about donation that's interesting the answer is do we have plans maybe not because we you know we're that's the way the writing process works but I do think it's because of each episodes only so long I don't think we've tapped into everything that we can explore with this topic and I feel like every day we'll be talking this group of writers who are so amazing and we will bring in different pieces and and oftentimes they may fall into different categories and I think the answer is yes we will at some point find a different take to this to this world so we can bring new information do do we have it right now I know no we don't but it's you know we are just starting season to you know give us a few weeks but we did three last year yeah so when your stories do you did you have an opportunity to work side by side with another organ procurement organization or Torcy procurement interestingly enough the actress who plays dora on our show Sabrina she over the hiatus gave her mother a kidney and she said she was partly inspired by the show that's just beautiful and that was my other question is if you knew anyone else that was inspired by your show and act upon know what you did so thank you oh just a minute – okay I just want to tell you first I love your show I have friends here we all love your show I was I was curious as to my name is ava and I had a heart transplant 10 years ago amazing as however I started a nonprofit called Ava's heart to assist transplant and donor families and one of the really big issues in getting listed for a transplant is that if you don't live near your transplant center and you can't prove that you have three months of post transplant housing you can't get listed and I think that that's when I tell people that they just freaked out so that just might be something you might want to think about and I'm also gonna give you all an invitation to my gala on the 8th I have a one legacy partner we also helped donor families any donor family that's in need of help with cremation of burial we do that as well and so we're kind of starting a new thing and I'll give you any information you want for free but you have to put me on whatever Thank You Ava for everything that you do thank you is there any other questions in our audience come on don't be shy this is your opportunity come on up to the mic dr. Liang hi my name is Leo I'm a transplant surgeon and I wish my life were a quarter as glamorous as Oh TV lives of your transplant surgeons but oh um I was wondering if you because a long time ago I watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy with my wife who's also a transplant physician and we were outraged at something that one of the characters lobbied who for a heart transplant for her boyfriend and was involved in getting the heart for her boyfriend of a patient in the hospital and I'm wondering if you understand really how there's a line between the living donor side and recipient side that we try very hard not to cross in the transplant world and I think on TV that doesn't happen all the time because you're interested in getting the most dramatic storylines and and it looks good for maybe surgeons to interact with like the donor family or something like that but we try very hard to keep that separate and I just don't know if you realize that because we see that line crossed on TV and episode after episode and it makes you know organizations like one legacy we have a hard time fighting the image that we're like vultures trying to harvest organs you know we try not to even use the word harvest so I'm just wondering if you guys understood that we've only done living recipients we hopefully are thank you for bringing that to our attention and thank you for bringing it up I appreciate it and you know we certainly don't want to cross that line I hope we don't cross that line I don't think we have yet and but you know I hear what you're saying it is something that is as you pointed out dramatically it is appealing to some but I think that you know we work hard not to make your life harder that's for sure thank you for the work you do and thank you for the work that everyone does this question isn't really about transplant but I was impressed this season that you were always discussing insurance I was like yes to the TV all the time because I'm I'm I'm really I wonder have you had any backlash from about that the fact that penny one doesn't watch the show they're always talking about the Ryan Eggold character is is outraged that people can't get treated because they don't have insurance so he's like well I'm gonna give you a new amsterdam card and everybody can have and you know we're doing 50,000 I think you're 500,000 he was gonna do but this is what they just did in New York a week after we premiered de Blasio was handing out cards you know one thing I I'm a volunteer actually at cedars-sinai and I know and I work in the ER and I know that when you in I don't know if it's different in New York versus California but in California if you come to the ER they have to see you whether regardless they don't know if you haven't sure until you don't until registration comes to the patient after is it different in New York because your New Amsterdam didn't supposed to be like Bellevue do you know that I mean I don't know it's the same it doesn't it doesn't mean they won't bill you after and you know I will say that we have been we have I didn't I don't know of any backlash that we've got they're not advertising on our show I say having one of the things that I've really appreciated in living in writing in this world that David Sean are created and is that you know we over the year of writing the first season we sort of walk up to a lion and we'd be like can we really say that can we really criticize we really say that about the insurance industry and people weren't and David was like yes and then we walk up to a farther line and be like are we really gonna say that they would be like yes and then we walk even farther and I was amazed at the things at how far we went and sort of just like it's talking about the the the the underinsured the the people who are underdogs and unable to get care in our society even today with all of the resources that we have how many people don't have basic health care or if they do get it it will bankrupt them and and it's been great to be able to talk about those issues in really it's a great world that David created and he has encouraged us at every step to go farther and I've been frankly surprised but get ready for season two because we are out of control yes that's why I will always watch this show because I haven't seen anything I loved about that particular scene there when I saw it the first time showed live and during the season and again just it continues to work the fact that it's behind the scenes there's humor it's sibling humor and we know it exists in medicine in the life and death world of Medicine on the other hand it's very easy to throw the humor out in a very in a way that's disrespectful to the underlying human drama that's underneath it and as I was writing myself some notes for tonight I was thinking you know I was gonna talk about the drama and I was gonna quit the humor and things but decided not to bring it up because it seemed too hard but you gave me the groundwork here I think so I think it looked very you know very well done because it does that does exist in the world but it was not in any way disrespectful I guess my question out of this is that done with intentionality and forethought or is it just because you fundamentally have respect for the drama in this story you're telling I think every episode we try to emulate the pilot David wrote which is infused with drama and humor and making sure that we're getting the message across but not cramming it down anybody's throat and sometimes the best way to do that is with humor and to make it a little bit lighter and I'm very grateful for the tone of the show because it feels like we are reaching a lot of people and hopefully changing hearts and minds because of that it can be a bit of a cudgel if you just do to push the drama tour and this is a beautiful balance so thank you another question wait your turn that [Laughter] especially listening to you because that's wonderful but there's a little personal side to that I'm a donor mom so when you started talking about donation boy is that his home one thing that I want to ask is if you guys go into it further if you decide to do another episode if you could kind of look into what the families are going through what the donor families have to deal with how are they handling that moment I think if more people could know that there is hope behind that that yes you're sitting there and you're knowing that your loved ones not going to come home your loved one's not gonna be alive after today your loved one is now going you're gonna say goodbye to them in the hospital thinking that there's hope behind it that you can actually take that and say you know what my daughter was only twenty years old when she passed she didn't have enough time to really experience too much but she has helped so many with their tissue donation and save the life of a little baby so for me know beam that you guys have the opportunity to really express to the world that when someone donates it brings hope I'm hoping that you guys think of considering an episode on that and I'd be more than happy to help you with any information you need thank you [Applause] thank you for sharing that it's amazing stories like that is why we're here today this is why we all work together Matt can you follow that let's see what you got I don't think I can minds it's boring but first of all thank you for highlighting organ transplant it is the coolest field of medicine hands down it's the most powerful field of medicine as you can tell she knows I work at Cedars I'm an organ preservation is and I think I want to ask you guys if you plan or you have I haven't wants to show up be honest to highlight disparities in organ transplant because it happens on both sides on the recipient side and the donor side so and the recipient side you have people who don't get Oregon's donor side you have people who don't give organs and I think I like that one legs you got busier but but also but also it'll help a lot more people more importantly yeah I'm so sorry can you expand expand on that yeah just disparities maybe between race or between religion or between a culture income in comes with a powerful one actually she's right you know so there's trust issues with medicine with positions and the population certain demographics the population you know so I think it's a powerful topic and medicine in general but particularly in organ transplant so it doesn't it isn't focused just in the United States it's around the world too you know so in different countries you know they have issues of organ transplantation for example Japan they didn't I think they did their first heart transplant in like 2003 or 2004 you know so and they were just anti organ transplantation in general so it is a powerful topic to look into and I think you'll even expand your demographic in who watches your show you know including you well you watch the show okay yeah but it will help a lot of people and I think you know part of my master's thesis was on this you know and there's organ trafficking and there's all these things that you know and by stood a great special on organ trafficking how people are paid certain by money for a kidney and and you know they're taking so there's a lot of disparities in this field as beautiful as it is and as as great as it is and the experts have planned everything out there are a lot of places that could really use Hollywood's help another question thank you a comment like him my name is Rachel I'm gonna bast her with one legacy I want to thank you for your work on the show I started watching it with your episode and haven't stopped because not only do you do this very important donation stories but Max and my husband have the same cancer so hopefully you give him a happy ending because we have one and I I wanted to tell you how important these stories are because it's just a matter of having the right person sitting there watching it to make a difference in the lives of so many people for me 10 years ago it was Katie Couric sitting in my living room telling me about kidney chains I didn't know a thing about them and now my kidneys in Pennsylvania so it's a matter of telling the story at the right time and having the right people listen so keep telling those stories please thank you how we doing out there do we have any more questions are there any questions from our Facebook Tanya come on up we want to say hello to everyone who is watching us on Facebook we're getting away and Tony is gonna help answer help ask their questions yes so I have a couple of questions and a few comments there's a medical question I'll take that thank you very much doctor it says my husband died at age at the age of 46 from what they said was an aortic dissection aneurysm how comments that an data from a 46 year old healthy patient with mild hypertension we have a lot of doctors here so if anybody has a comment David Shona dr. Foster not comment on our show anybody in the public who has maybe a comment for this person who's asking okay well look into that question and we'll answer for you later on thank you questions we have I hope they do an episode as well showing a donor family this is now one of the comments and I have two more questions one is would you be open to working with a writer who has actually been through the rounds of medical situations of several counties to add an additional layer of authenticity to your old reading in crevo shelf when you'll be considering somebody who because you have already worked with patients people who are you know like the person who had the cystic fibrosis the actor and would you be willing to work maybe with other writers who would like to collaborate with their stories we are where we have writers not even on this stage we have Laura and Leah here in the front row or also writers on Lauren so we I think sadly we and gratefully we haven't we have being the room is full yes thank you and how can you look how can then look at storylines of patients who may start out with a condition that leans into other situations such as ultimately needing a transplant just like the other one they wanted to share okay well thank you very much guys thank you Tony thank you to our audience on Facebook okay so if there are no further questions I think we'll wrap up this session and we'll move into our next session thank you so much [Applause]

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