L.A. medical drama 'Code Black' strives for gritty realism | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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L.A. medical drama 'Code Black' strives for gritty realism

Actors Bonnie Somerville (left) and Benjamin Hollingsworth of "Code Black" pose during an interview with The Canadian Press in Toronto on Thursday, June 4, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
September 28, 2015 - 2:05 PM

TORONTO - Harrowing stories from an overburdened U.S. medical system inspired the acclaimed documentary "Code Black."

And now that documentary has inspired a TV series, which its co-stars say breaks away from standard network fare with a realistic look at front-line trauma care.

Benjamin Hollingsworth and Bonnie Somerville say each medical crisis depicted on CBS/CTV's "Code Black" is based on a real event — and was even shot in the same public facility that witnessed those life-or-death moments.

The two marvelled at re-enacting chaotic scenes at the shuttered headquarters for the Los Angeles County Hospital, which allowed the TV crew to enter after the centre was replaced by a new state-of-the-art building.

"They're keeping it true to form," Somerville said during a visit to Toronto back in June with Hollingsworth. "It's shot like a documentary, it's shot as it would go down in the actual E.R."

The documentary captured the daily blood-spattered battles that took place in a 20-by-20 foot trauma bay and Somerville says the TV series attempts to do the same.

She recounted feeling the weight of history in the "cathedral" credited with pioneering emergency medicine.

"L.A. is a newer city so you can't actually tear it down so we got to shoot where this was," said Somerville.

"It was pretty intense when you're in there."

Hollingsworth said extras include actual nurses and doctors who ad-libbed their own lines, adding even more authenticity to the story.

Code black is invoked when an influx of patients is so great that hospital staff are too overwhelmed to treat them all.

Hollingsworth said that while a typical urban hospital might go into code black five or six times a year, L.A. County goes into code black 300 times a year.

Hollingsworth and Somerville play resident physicians while Marcia Gay Harden stars as their tough-minded boss, Dr. Leanne Rorish, nicknamed "Daddy."

The two gushed over Harden's professionalism and leadership on set.

"She sends out emails at the end of a 16-hour shoot day mentioning everyone by name and something that they really did that kind of stood out that day," said Hollingsworth. "She goes over and beyond."

Somerville also welcomed Harden's character as a strong female lead who is countered by macho actor Luis Guzman — who plays a senior nurse known as "Mama."

"The show definitely breaks a lot of stereotypes for sure," she said.

"Code Black" premieres Wednesday on CBS and CTV.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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