The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) announced yesterday that it had acquired the rights to the NBC Thursday night smash hit ER, marking the first time an organization has taken over a television drama. “With this purchase, UPMC has taken giant leaps toward expanding its functions and diversifying itself as an institution,” said UPMC spokesperson Arthur Person. “The collective staff and board of UPMC has long been a fan of the televised medical drama genre and now we are proud to be a part of the field. We, however, are not satisfied to be just another player in the domain. UPMC is looking to be at the forefront of the medical drama by developing riveting and heart-wrenching plots.”
Person spoke further about the logistics of supporting a fully functioning world class hospital, and maintaining the high ratings of the television drama. “We believe the two fields to be mutually beneficial. Television has had a long tradition of dramatizing what is commonplace. Thus, we can take our everyday life here at UPMC and tweak it to make it entertaining for millions of Americans. We expect the show's writers and producers to take story ideas and plot lines from real-life events. At the same time, our doctors, nurses, and administrators can be influenced by the show to develop love triangles, personality conflicts, and power struggles in their own personal lives. We believe this will be a win-win proposition.”
While the hospital administration is content with the transition, there is the likely possibility of personnel changes which usually follow a corporate acquisition.
“Many ER actors are worried about being replaced by real doctors,” Entertainment insider Joan Rivers explained. “I have already heard rumors floating around that current star Noah Wylie is going to be replaced by the sports-medicine expert Freddie Fu. This has sent shockwaves to the other cast members who are wondering if they could be next.”
Likewise, many hospital employees fear for their own stability in light of the recent transition.
“Everyone knows those Hollywood big shots only hire highly attractive actors and actresses, so it's only natural to assume that the less attractive hospital staff without quirky personalities will be the next to go,” worried a hospital employee who wished to remain anonymous. “It'll only be a matter of time before they start hiring former Miss America pageant contestants and former playmate bunnies to work in hospital staffing positions. ‘Choose a hospital as if your life depended on it,’ it'll be more like ‘choose a hospital as if the size of their tits depended on it.’”
Another hospital employee, who also wished to remain anonymous, was equally as concerned. “With the recent trend towards reality-based television who knows what kind of spin-offs and projects will develop using UPMC as a base. It'll be nearly impossible to wheel patients around with all those cameras and equipment in the hallways. I'm thinking about transferring to Mercy.”
Regardless of any opposition, UPMC will officially take over ER on January 2, 2002. No other details were given about other television prospects for the hospital.