ABC News Gets “Real” In Return To Hopkins

By SteveK 

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Eight years ago when ABC News cameras entered Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to film “Hopkins 24/7,” viewers got a chance to see what life was like behind-the-scenes at one of the most renowned, and busy, hospitals in America.

Since that series, there have been few similar series. Until ABC went back.

Hopkins,” filmed in HD, premieres tonight at 10pmET/PT and continues every Thursday for six weeks.

“A medical documentary practically can’t be made today,” Terence Wrong, EP of the series (as well as the one eight years ago) tells TVNewser. “Hopkins has a trusting relationship with us after our last series. They were willing to let the blemishes be shown, because its a world class institution with world class doctors. We were able to do what nobody’s done since Hopkins 24/7.”

Wrong credits ABC News president David Westin and SVP of creative development Phyllis McGrady for pushing the program. “David Westin [wants] to make what’s on ABC News distinctive and different from what you’ll see on other news networks,” says Wrong. “His faith and confidence that I could deliver something worthwhile is humbling.”

Alright, alright…so what about those Grey’s Anatomy comparisons?

“Grey’s is kind of the inverse, but there’s still a connective tissue,” says Wrong.

That tissue comes from the characters in the documentary and the dramatic moments in the series. A doctor fighting to keep his marriage together while fighting to save patients. A brain surgeon who came to America as an illegal immigrant and worked his way through college. A young surgical resident who punctures a woman’s lung during a routine procedure.

“First, we select great doctors, who are extroverted, charismatic, have a great community appeal to the audience in some way,” says Wrong. “It doesn’t mean they have to be out of central casting.”

Wrong and his team spent four months in the hospital collecting nearly 1500 hours of footage, which have been edited to six, hour-long episodes.

Says Wrong, “The stakes are life and death, and you don’t see that in other shows on TV.” Not even at Seattle Grace.