The dramas that play themselves out daily at a
world-famous medical institution will once again be
depicted on the small screen.
ABC News has returned to Johns Hopkins.
In 1999, the network's news division was granted
nearly unfettered access to Johns Hopkins
Medicine. The result was an award-winning, six-part
documentary, Hopkins 24/7, which aired in 2000 and drew
nearly 12 million viewers in its prime-time slot.
The as-yet-unnamed new series, which will air sometime
in the summer of 2008, will, like its predecessor, be shot
cinema verite-style as film crews follow the doctors,
nurses, students and patients involved in gripping
The crews began filming in mid-February and will
likely wrap up shooting sometime in June, according to the
In a nod to popular hospital-based TV dramas such as
Grey's Anatomy, the new series will partly focus on
younger residents and interns in an attempt to portray the
real-life mentoring process in a clinical setting.
"No one becomes a Hopkins physician just by graduating
from medical school," said Joann Rodgers, director of media
relations and public affairs for Johns Hopkins Medicine.
"The process of internship and residency is how doctors get
made, whether it's at Hopkins or anywhere else. We think
ABC will do a great job of capturing that in this new
ABC producers said that Johns Hopkins' senior staff
and surgeons will also be portrayed and that they are
leaving the door open for "cameos" by the medical staff
featured in Hopkins 24/7.
Terry Wrong, the show's executive producer, said that
ABC News decided to shoot another hospital documentary
because it has an entire new generation of viewers to cater
to, and the public's interest in medical dramas remains
He said that Johns Hopkins is an ideal location for
such a program due to its wealth of "great doctors and
cases" that lend themselves to good storytelling.
What will the viewers see this time? Wrong said that
it's too early to tell what will make the final cut, but he
promises lots of compelling stories.
"I'm calling it a documedical," Wrong said. "It's a
documentary with all the drama of medical stories."
Wrong said that unlike medical documentaries seen on
Discovery Health or PBS' Nova, for example,
this series will include less "science speak" and is aimed
more at people who are the patient base. "We're trying to
reach the 25-year-old oil-field worker in Wyoming," he
The majority of filming will be done at
Hopkins Hospital and Bayview Medical
Center, but camera crews will also follow Hopkins
caregivers and students at work in the field and capture
them during candid moments at home.
Rodgers said that the key motivation for allowing
cameras into Johns Hopkins' patient floors, surgery rooms
and laboratories remains the same as it was seven years ago
— to help the public better understand the world of
health care and an academic medical institution.
Specifically, a documentary like this, she said, can help
shine light on such issues as the rising cost of health
care, clinical care and research, and patient safety.
"We are a big, complicated institution. Our goal is to
give people an inside view and show what really goes on
here," Rodgers said.
The decision to let cameras in was easier than might
be expected, Rodgers said, because of the strong level of
trust between ABC and Johns Hopkins.
"They have a proven track record of producing in-depth
documentaries that are both fair and comprehensive," she
said. "We thought the benefits to both Johns Hopkins and
the viewers would be significant, and that we can manage
any risks associated with allowing such unrestrained and