Harris: We welcome to the guest line actor Mark Harmon, who you know from his work in movies like The Presidio with Sean Connery, and Stealing Home with Jodie Foster, and Summer School, a great Carl Reiner comedy and, of course, from his years on St. Elsewhere, and now on CBS TV’s Chicago Hope, Monday nights at 10 o’clock as Dr. Jack McNeil. Good morning, Mark!
Harmon: Good morning, Paul!
Harris: Welcome to the show. How is it to be back on TV playing a doctor again?
Harmon: Well, it’s more than that. For me, it’s nice to be on a show as quality driven as Chicago Hope. I am enjoying playing this character a lot and I like this job a lot, so I feel like I’m a lucky guy.
Harris: This is two quality driven shows for you, because St. Elsewhere was certainly in that category. I guess from your perspective, working on it, it was also a great show.
Harmon: Well, you know, it’s a lot easier to do good work when you have good words to say and work with good people. I have found that out over the years.
Harris: They throw an enormous amount of medical jargon at you guys, and the same thing with the guys on ER and all of these shows. Is that tough to learn? Do have to get a medical dictionary and study that?
Harmon: Yeah, absolutely. It’s like a different language, but at Chicago Hope they have a technical staff that works real hard to make that comfortable. They will work as hard on the stuff we do in the O.R. or on the operating field as anything. There are actually rehearsals separated from the rest of the show to perform that and try and make that as realistic as possible.
Harris: Do you ever get to something in a script where you’re going, “Orthrokorofssibm…can’t we make this an appendectomy?”
Harmon: Absolutely. We actually have read-throughs of every script before every show. Usually at those read-throughs, no one has had the time to go back and break down what the terms are, so normally when we get to those in the read-through, everyone in the room is going, “Gabrobermaplasm….”
Harris: Have you ever had people come up to you and think you are a real doctor?
Harmon: I have. (laughs) Actually, I have this little out-patient clinic in the valley that I operate now.
Harris: (laughs) That’s the problem with being a doctor on TV. People probably see you in an airport or something, “You know, I have this problem with my arm….”
Harmon: Yeah, and the frightening thing is, you start to think you can fix them, which is really a mistake.
Harmon: I guess it’s a compliment. It means that people think what you are doing is real.
Harris: Right. Mark, I have a listener on the line here. Her name is Laurie and she has a question for you.
Laurie: Hi, Mark. You are a great addition to the show. In the spring, I won a prize to have a walk-on part on Chicago Hope.
Harmon: You did?! When are you going to do that?
Laurie: That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, because we’re trying to figure out a time to go. I pretty much have till next April.
Harmon: How did you win this?
Laurie: There was a launch for the Catalog For Giving, and Peter Berg, Noah Wyle, and Samuel L. Jackson were part of the group to help sponsor it. There were five different prizes and I won first prize, which was a walk-on part.
Harmon: That’s great. So sometime in the spring, I’ll meet you there.
Laurie: I would love to. I was going to say, you can do knee replacement, hip replacement, anything you want.
Harmon: Maybe because Peter was involved in this they will have you working with him.
Laurie: Who knows.
Harris: I think what she’s saying, Mark, is that she would like to have you give her a full examination.
Laurie: Exactly! That would be very exciting, and I wanted to know if there was a certain time that would be good? Should we go in November, December?
Harmon: I don’t know. Whatever they say, Laurie. I was going to say when I asked where you won this, it is tough to get on this set. People don’t walk on and tours don’t come through, and rarely are walk-ons given. So that’s great. Good for you. Whenever they say it is good for you to come.
Laurie: They have said whenever I want to come.
Harmon: Then pick a nice time to come visit Los Angles when it’s a little colder over here.
Laurie: Also, I’m pregnant and I am early on. Do you think it would be better to do it when it is early?
Harmon: Is this your first child?
Harmon: Second. You know how you’re going to be feeling in the months to come, so you figure it out.
Laurie: All right. Well, I’m very excited and I hope to get the chance to work with you. It’s not a big part on the show, but it’s very exciting.
Harris: “The chance to work with you.” I love that, Laurie. Mark, I think you might be delivering that baby if that’s what she wants. Okay, thanks Laurie and good luck with the walk-on. When it happens, you’ll have to call us back and tell us how it went!
Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones