Mark Feuerstein, 3 LBS
, whose credits to date are vast and varied — including TV's The West Wing
, Once and Again
and Good Morning, Miami
, and the movies Woman on Top
and In Her Shoes
— is exploring new, undiscovered territory these days as Dr. Jonathan Seger, the idealistic young surgeon serving as a fellow to Stanley Tucci
's brilliant brain man on CBS' 3 LBS
(Tuesdays at 10 pm/ET). We invited the actor to flex his gray matter and weigh in on the new medical drama's strengths — as well as one perceived weakness.
TVGuide.com: If I may steal from the show's ad campaign, some may say that acting isn't brain surgery, but in this case it is.
Mark Feuerstein: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess so. I guess so. Pronouncing the words alone requires one-millionth of the effort that a brain surgeon has to make to become a brain surgeon, but it still sucks. It's still tough.
TVGuide.com: Do you know your occipital from your parietal?
Feuerstein: If you happen to have a vascular aneurysm incorporated into your posterior cerebral artery, I know that you're probably in trouble.
Feuerstein: Thank you! Thank you....
TVGuide.com: What are you hoping to bring to this role of the idealistic young doc butting heads with the jaded, brilliant surgeon?
Feuerstein: All of my naïveté, my idealism, my optimism about the world.... I love the part, and I love going head-to-head with a guy like Stanley Tucci. I mean, he's just awesome. I've loved his work before this show, and now to work with him every day has been a total joy. The guy is so funny and so smart and so fun.... It's a bit like my relationship with my older brother. You know, how the older sibling sees the world first? That's how I view Dr. Hanson. He's at the forefront of this "undiscovered country," the brain, and I'm right there behind him trying to keep up and trying to understand where he's going with it – while keeping my morals intact.
TVGuide.com: I was reading in the paper a few days ago that when you screened the pilot up at Columbia Medical Center, it came under a bit of an attack by some doctors?
Feuerstein: You know what, Matt? I am very impressed with you. You not only care about our show, but you are the only reporter in America to pick up on that article in the [New York] Post, which I was duly notified about when I was going to do my satellite interviews around the country.
TVGuide.com: I guess this one doctor's point was that the way the radiology surgeon [played by Griffin Dunne] tried to undermine Dr. Hanson was a cynical view of how colleagues operate.
Feuerstein: If I was being petty, I would say, first of all, that I remember that doctor sitting in the audience. He should have felt free to ask that question while he was sitting there, instead of to just [source] an article where he complains about it. I mean, we were right there. That being said... I'm sure it doesn't happen every day or every year that a doctor will literally steal a patient, but it's not beyond the realm of believability.
TVGuide.com: No, each surgeon's practice is a profit center, and they've got to drum up business.
Feuerstein: Exactly. And one aspect of the brain in particular is that it's this undiscovered country, as I said before, where every case that is remotely unique or rare is an opportunity for development and learning and research. We have been very accurate in depicting the competition among different doctors to get the cases in their court, so that they can get the credit for paving a new way. If this guy wants to assert that competition among doctors and research practitioners is not real, then he can... I don't know, write another article and get us more press.
TVGuide.com: Why don't you tease some of the more interesting cases coming up?
Feuerstein: You have just opened yourself a Pandora's box, my friend. I love the cases on the show. The one coming up this week is about a woman who is pregnant and has a brain tumor; she has to decide whether or not to get radiology, which would kill the baby. From the get-go, we start with a very tough choice. We then perform an operation called a corpus callosotomy where we split her right and left hemispheres. In doing that, Adrienne Holland [Indira Varma], a neurologist always looking to experiment, steals her away, unbeknownst to Dr. Hanson. She then speaks to both the left and the right brain separately, and in speaking to the right brain, she discovers this woman's true feelings about what she'd like to do about this dilemma. It's a very intense moment, and the woman playing the patient, Erin Dilly, is off the charts.
TVGuide.com: And in the episodes coming up?
Feuerstein: In one episode, we have a 12-year-old epileptic who claims to see God when she has a seizure. So she doesn't want the operation to take place, because she doesn't want to lose the seizures. The question of that particular episode is, does God make the brain, or does the brain make God? That question just blows my mind. In another episode, there is a technology called deep brain stimulation, or DBS, where you implant wires into a cerebral cortex, and by turning a knob on a little remote control, we can make [the patient] sob hysterically, smile, laugh hysterically, and then bring him back to a place where he says, "It's good to be alive."
TVGuide.com: Well that's just crazy.
Feuerstein: And it's real. It's usually used on people with physical muscle tremors, but it's been experimented [with] as a possible solution for depression.
TVGuide.com: I say we get Steve Jobs on the case, and market the device as some iPod-sized gizmo.
Feuerstein: Yeah, you could put photos and music on it, and have the ability to make yourself happy.
TVGuide.com: You're playing another doctor this month, on Showtime's Masters of Horror ("Pro-Life," premiering Friday at 10 pm). And delivering Caitlin Wachs' demon baby, no less?
Feuerstein: Yes! In 3 LBS, we're dealing with a very real, literal monster, like Dr. Frankenstein, and what that would mean in the real world today. And in Masters of Horror, we're dealing with an actual monster.
TVGuide.com: Now with a demon baby, I don't imagine you slap one of those when they come out. I mean, the thing is gonna slap back.
Feuerstein: No, and I don't. As you will see, I run for dear life, like the woman that I am!
Pick up the Nov. 20 issue of TV Guide for stories on prime time's other medical dramas, such as ER and Grey's Anatomy.
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