How Ken Jeong’s Life as an Internist Inspired the Pilot for ABC’s ‘Dr. Ken’

Plus, his rule for promoting projects on social


Specs
Age 46
Claim to fame Star and co-creator of ABC's family sitcom Dr. Ken (premieres Oct. 2 at 8:30 p.m.); plays Chang on NBC/Yahoo Screen's Community; former internist
Base Los Angeles
Twitter @kenjeong

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning? 
Ken Jeong: I'll run on the treadmill and go back and forth between CNN and ESPN, get my daily dose of info. I keep it very simple. I don't want to exaggerate and say, "Oh yeah, I go on this site and this site." I don't have time.

Did you join Twitter because of Community?
You're absolutely right, I really just [joined Twitter] because everybody else on Community used it. Twitter really helped solidify our audience. And it became an amazing—I don't want to say "marketing tool," which it was—but it really became a great place for the cast and creator Dan Harmon to interact with fans. The specificity and depth of knowledge of the Community fans really knows no bounds.

So are you doing the same thing on Dr. Ken, and making sure everyone is on social media?
All the cast members are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It's definitely encouraged to do it, but I believe that any sort of promotion needs to come from within. I tell all the cast, "I want you to promote the show out of love. I don't want you to promote it because you have to."

What are your favorite apps?
Waze for travel. And I've got Yahoo Screen because of Community.

What TV shows are you watching?
My wife and I love Veep and The Walking Dead. Because The X-Files is coming out as a miniseries next year, we're watching select X-Files episodes. I watched a few in my day, but my wife is a huge fan. We started watching the Vince Gilligan-written episodes, and his had this very different flavor than Chris Carter's did. They were pretty amazing.

How about music?
When I'm working out, I listen to your standard pop like Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" or Imagine Dragons. But I grew up in the '90s, and Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, that's my jam. We do Dr. Ken in front of an audience, and I have them play Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Can't Stop" as the intro music for all the cast members. It's one of my favorite songs.

Are you reading any books?
Phil Jackson's Eleven Rings. I'm a big fan of his books. He wrote Sacred Hoops 20 years ago. I was in med school at the time, and he applied principles of Zen to basketball and to life. His word play is so clever and engaging, very sincere.

When you were a doctor, how frustrating was it for you when patients would go online to diagnose themselves?
The [Dr. Ken] pilot deals with this. You have all this access to information, but you still need to be educated to know how to process that information. When I was practicing, I always told my patients to go on NIH.gov—National Institutes of Health—or an .edu site, where it's affiliated with a med school, or an accredited hospital like Mayo Clinic that is going to dole out information in a very professional way. Don't go on a .com; anyone can write any sort of crap on a .com. And don't go on a message board! But I really think you need to see a medical professional, and he can help contextualize whatever you think you have—online or otherwise!

This story first appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.