Dr. Lisa Masterson, a gynecologist on the syndicated show “The Doctors,” visited Atlanta last week to tape a segment for “The Mo’Nique Show.”
I spoke with her for a few minutes to discuss the show. Late 30 minutes, she was all business.
“The Doctors,” a spinoff of “The Dr. Phil Show” is in its third season and has become a mid-level success, drawing around 2.5 million viewers a day. (Dr. Phil is in the 3.5 to 4 million a day and “Oprah” tops the talk-show circuit with more than 6 million a day.) The show, which features four doctors talking about an array of medical topics, is now guaranteed through 2011-12. Locally, it airs at 10 a.m. weekdays on Channel 2 WSB-TV.
Masterson had already done guest spots on various TV shows when a friend recommended she try out for “The Doctors” in 2008. “I was doing a lot of charity work in Africa. My friend said, ‘You go to Africa as an individual to see one patient at a time. This is a way for you to provide information to millions around the world.’ It’s quite a gift as a doctor to be able to do that and reach that many people.”
She works to reduce mortality rates in Kenya, Eritrea and Sierra Leone, among others.
Masterson has plenty of medical credibility. She is on staff at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and UCLA, and has a private practice in Santa Monica. The show has forced her to reduce her schedule at her clinic to Monday through Wednesday while she tapes the show on Thursday and Friday. She is on call on weekends. So days off are rare.
“I enjoy what I do,” she said. “My son is in college. I have more free time. It’s perfect.”
Of the four doctors on the show, only Dr. Travis Stork was really well known before the show’s launch and that had nothing to do with medicine: he was “The Bachelor” season eight on ABC.
“We have real chemistry,” she said, with the show approaching 500 episodes. (Yes, syndication is a volume business!). “We are real doctors. We’ve figured this all out together. We’ve seen each other grow. We’re kind of like a real family now.”
It took about a season, she said, for her to become really comfortable with the eight cameras. “It’s a lot more intricate than people think,” she said. “If you sit in the middle like I do, you can’t just ping-pong your head to each guy as they speak.” Instead, she has to be more subtle in her movements.
The most amusing gimmick of the show is how the doctors are required to wear doctor’s jackets. She said hers is the same exact brand as the one she uses in her office.
And as the only woman in the group, she feel like she embodies that viewpoint for the predominately female audience. She also doesn’t mind revealing her health-related foibles, including a predilection for candy and Diet Coke. “One time, the cameras came into my house and raided my candy drawer,” she said.”You have to overall be healthy but you’re human and still have to enjoy life, too.”
I asked her for her favorite celebrity guests. She ended up naming a couple of people she had just seen, including the delightfully diminutive sex expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer. (Yes, she is still alive and kicking at age 82!) She also loved “The Brady Bunch” star Florence Henderson, who was on last week for the weekly Motherhood Survival Club segment. And she is a fan of Joan Rivers. The common theme: “They’re still just courageous and not afraid to say what they think,” she said.
One of her more memorable segments was airing a live birth. But her most favorite bits include roller blading at a roller derby and ice skating with Evan Lysacek.
Masterson admits being a private person. “I’m not big on public displays of emotion,” she said. But she is releasing a memoir set to come out April. She said she’ll chronicle her mom’s battle with breast cancer in more detail than she has revealed so far.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog