*Ving Rhames gave a shout out to his new network home TNT on Friday for “doing something on a level a bit above the Tyler Perry shows.”
He was referring to his new medical drama “Monday Mornings,” based on the real life “morbidity and mortality” meetings where doctors gather with their peers each week for a confidential review of complications and errors in patient care.
The series, from David E. Kelley (“Chicago Hope,” “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal”), is based on the best-selling book written by CNN’s chief medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who also serves as an executive producer. The show is set in a fictional hospital in Portland and follows a group of surgeons as they deal with their own personal and professional failings. Alfred Molina plays the hospital’s chief of surgery, responsible for guiding his team through specific cases.
“When I was training, these are the most indelible experiences I’ve had in my life,” Gupta told reporters Friday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena. “They’re so candid. They shut the doors: there are no administrators, no lawyers; it’s doctors holding each other accountable.”
“At the onset, I was wondering how viable the M&M meetings would be over the life of the series and they’re the staple of each episode,” said Kelley. “So much of the tension in those scenes is played with Alfred discussing what the scene is about. We never know where that character is going. As a result, the viewer can never know if they’re on safe footing. A lot of tension is established that way.”
Among the surgeons attending the M&M meetings is Dr. Jorge Villanueva, played by Rhames. During the show’s TCA panel on Friday, the 53-year-old film and TV veteran made a point to thank TNT and the show’s creative team for giving an African American actor a “well-written, well-rounded” character to play — then, “in a respectful way,” slips in the Tyler Perry jab. Listen below.
“Monday Mornings,” premieres Feb. 4 at 10 p.m. on TNT. Watch promos below.