Ryan Eggold, Freema Agyeman and Executive Producers Talk Exploring Social Issues on New Amsterdam in Emmy®
(NOHO ARTS DISTRICT, Calif. — Aug. 14, 2020) – Despite an abbreviated season due to production delays from COVID-19, the NBC drama New Amsterdam has consistently delivered relevant stories that parallel the problems that plague us in 2020. Emmy, the award-winning official publication of the Television Academy, hits newsstands Aug. 18 with a new issue and cover story featuring three of the show’s stars—Ryan Eggold, Freema Agyeman and Janet Montgomery—who talk about how their series tackles important topics and issues facing our society.
New Amsterdam is modeled after America’s first public hospital, Manhattan’s Bellevue. In the cover story “The Doctors of Our Dreams,” executive producer David Schuler credits Dr. Eric Manheimer, medical director of Bellevue for 15 years, as his inspiration for the show. Schuler brought Manheimer’s memoir Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital to Universal Television in 2016, when healthcare was at the forefront of the national conversation. “These conversations were passionate and angry and full of personal anecdotes and personal connections,” says Schuler. “The one thing missing was a sense of hope. Everyone agreed the healthcare system was broken, and no one had hope we could get out of it. I wanted to write about that.”
The show regularly weaves current events into its storylines and embraces hot-button issues including immigration, poverty and racism. “Our show is an excuse to talk about the social ills of the world,” says executive producer/director Peter Horton. “And it is a chance to talk about people trying to do the right thing in the context of a world that is, to some degree, on fire—where the social issues are dynamic and high stakes and are a real threat to our democracy and to civilization. And we get to do our small part to ask about all of that. Because it is in the context of a hospital show—of people wanting to do the right thing—we are able to tell that story and have it get out there and see its impact.”
On New Amsterdam, the head of the emergency department, Dr. Lauren Bloom, played by Montgomery, is a recovering addict, while Dr. Iggy Frome, a psychiatrist played by Tyler Labine, suffers from an eating disorder. Labine suggested this for his character as he has a personal history with the condition. “I was diagnosed with body dysmorphia,” he says. Eggold fills the role of Dr. Max Goodwin, the hospital’s medical director, who was recently widowed, fought cancer and has a newborn to care for, all while performing a job that is a daily reminder of the world’s ills. “Max is willing to break the rules to get someone cared for,” says Eggold. Agyeman discovered some staggering statistics about cancer in her preparation for the role of oncologist Dr. Helen Sharpe, but observes, “…with so many advancements happening, maybe when you hear that ‘C-word’ it isn’t always so dark.”
The series is currently rescheduling an eerily prescient episode titled “Pandemic” about a killer flu in New York City. It was postponed because its original April 7 airdate found New York City in the midst of COVID-19. “The challenge for us and the network was: Is this perfectly unplanned timing a gift from the gods, with New Amsterdam stepping in to say, ‘It’s going to be okay,’ and doing what we do well?” Horton continues, “Or is this exploitive?” In an instance of life-imitating art, actor Daniel Dae Kim, cast as the series newest doctor, trauma surgeon Cassian Shin, contracted the coronavirus during shooting. During the pandemic the production itself has donated equipment to strapped New York hospitals.
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:
- In “Trauma to Triumph,” emmy talks to writer/producer/performer Michaela Coel about her HBO series, I May Destroy You, which she describes as a hybrid of feelings that came from her own attempts to process a traumatic experience.
- As demonstrators advocate for police reform, television professionals are reexamining the police procedural and its influence on race relations and criminal justice. In “Judgment Call,” emmy speaks with producers of shows including Shades of Blue, When They See Us, Miami Vice, S.W.A.T. and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels on the relevance of their shows in today’s social and political climate.
- Emmy gives voice to the narrators of some of TV viewers’ favorite series. “Loud and Clear” talks to John McEnroe of Never Have I Ever, Patton Oswalt of The Goldbergs, Anthony Mendez of Jane the Virgin, Kristen Bell of Gossip Girl, Bob Saget of How I Met Your Mother, and Daniel Stern of The Wonder Years.
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider’s view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.