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Braugher's Back with 'Gideon'

October 01, 2000|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Andre Braugher's return to weekly television drama has "new" written all over it: new character, new cast, new premise, new network.

But viewers checking out Braugher's ABC series "Gideon's Crossing" Wednesday nights at 10 may see something familiar. He takes on the role of Benjamin Gideon, an unorthodox doctor whose exploration of the world of cutting-edge medicine puts him in touch with the humanity of his patients, the younger doctors he's teaching and himself.

"Yes, there'll be a little Frank there in Benjamin," Braugher said in reference to his best-known portrayal--the intense, flawed but dedicated police detective, Frank Pembleton, from NBC's acclaimed "Homicide: Life on the Street." As Pembleton, Braugher won an Emmy in 1998 for outstanding lead actor in a drama.

Said Braugher: "There'll also be a bit of Andre in Benjamin. All of us share common characteristics. Rest assured, Benjamin is not going to kick [butt] and take names like Frank did. But if he does, it will be against the disease. He's the flip side of the same coin."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday October 15, 2000 Home Edition TV Times Page 3 Television Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Photo: A cast photo for ABC's "Gideon's Crossing," which ran in the Oct. 1 TV Times, included Barry Miller. Miller was in the series pilot and this early publicity photo; however, he is no longer in the cast.

The title character is the chief of experimental medicine at a prestigious Boston teaching hospital regarded as the last stop for critically ill patients. Under him is a staff of young doctors who attempt to learn the "art" of medicine as seen by Gideon.

In addition to the pressure of the medical facility, Gideon is also struggling with the demands of single fatherhood as he raises his three young children.

The cast of "Gideon's Crossing" also features Ruben Blades as Dr. Max Cabranes, chief executive of the hospital and Gideon's best friend; Russell Hornsby as chief resident Dr. Aaron Boles; Rhona Mitra as dedicated Dr. Alejandra "Ollie" Klein, and Eric Dane as the idealistic but conflicted Dr. Wyatt Cooper.

The drama was developed by Paul Attanasio, who also created "Homicide," and is inspired by the book, "The Measure of Our Days" by Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Jerome Groopman.

Attanasio and Braugher are confident that "Gideon's Crossing" will be more compelling than "ER," "City of Angels" and the recent real-life "Hopkins 24/7," and will transcend the genre, which has been a staple of television for decades with shows ranging from "Dr. Kildare" and "Marcus Welby M.D." through "Chicago Hope."

"There are several things that are unique about this show that have never been seen in a medical drama before," said Attanasio. "First of all, we have a single strong lead in Andre, playing a character who will take risks and go to the edge of the frontiers of science to fight for you."

He added: "Also, we've never seen the arena of a teaching hospital. The thing about medicine is, you can't learn it from books. We're taking these young doctors, throwing them into the deep end of the pool, and telling them, 'You better swim, or someone is going to die.' Gideon is challenging them to live up to his standards, and they in turn challenge him with their idealism and energy."

Braugher maintained that there would be an emotional quality to "Gideon's Crossing" "that is not matched or paralleled by anything in television today. We don't have conventional material, shaky camera work or characters that are morally deficient. We're breaking the rules in showing doctors and patients as absolutely human."

The depth of the role, plus the chance to work again with Attanasio and executive producer Katie Jacobs persuaded Braugher to return to weekly television after leaving "Homicide" in 1998 after six years to pursue other roles. Among his projects have been TNT's "Passing Glory," the feature film "City of Angels," "Frequency" and the just-opened "Duets." He also made his directorial debut with a vig-nette of the Showtime trilogy "Love Songs."

"I wanted to spread my wings and forge my identity with new characters," Braugher said. "I was never fatigued with TV drama or with the long hours. But 'Gideon's Crossing' represented the kind of challenge I had not seen for many years."

*

"Gideon's Crossing" premieres Oct. 10, then moves to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Oct. 18.

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