A Gifted Man, which moves to its new 9 p.m. time slot on Friday, February 17, could use a bit of divine intervention. CBS still sees potential in the medical drama, which stars Patrick Wilson as a doctor haunted by the ghost of his ex-wife, but the show remains firmly on the bubble. Executive producer Neal Baer is no stranger to medical drama, both on screen and in real life. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Baer used to practice medicine between seasons as a writer on ER. Later, he made the transition to Law & Order: SVU, which he ran for 11 seasons. Now, as the creator of A Gifted Man, Baer has made several tweaks to the show in recent months, putting the focus on the show's medical setting (where Wilson's character is assisted by critics' fave Margo Martindale) and bringing in both Rachelle Lefevre as a love interest and ER alum Eriq La Salle as an old colleague. Baer answered our showrunner survey in the hopes that Man will be gifted with more viewers.
TV Guide Magazine: Friday night is usually date night. Why should I stay home and watch A Gifted Man instead?
Neal Baer: We're a cheaper date than Applebee's and twice as tasty.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don't watch your show?
Baer: You'll gain a lot of weight; see above.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us an algorithm for your show.
Baer: A Gifted Man = ER plus Ghost minus Whoopi Goldberg.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing anyone has said or written about your show?
Baer: One magazine chose us as the "best new show last fall."
TV Guide Magazine: What's the worst thing that anyone has said?
Baer: A ratings website said we'd be cancelled before November sweeps. They were wrong and will have to adjust their proprietary "cancellation index."
TV Guide Magazine: Who was right?
Baer: The magazine; it's 2012 and we're still on the air!
TV Guide Magazine: You have famously still practiced medicine while working on your shows. How often do your casts and crewmembers ask you to look at a strange rash?
Baer: Too often. I've been asked by a guest star to take out his stitches, and I've been called and asked all sorts of questions about children because I'm a pediatrician. Advice on rashes: If it's dry, moisturize it. If it's wet, dry it out.
TV Guide Magazine: How are you using your power of TV for good?
Baer: By having Patrick Wilson play a physician who cares about his patients. And viewers can learn about common health issues by watching the show. We learned while ER was on that one in seven viewers discussed a health problem with their doctor after having watched an episode. That's a lot of responsibility and we strive to portray the medicine as accurately as possible.
TV Guide Magazine: What's an alternate title for your show?
Baer: The Best Show You're Not Watching — Yet.
TV Guide Magazine: If the ghost of a loved one came to you and tried to change your ways, would you hire a ghost buster?
Baer: Not if the ghost looked like Jennifer Ehle.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's scare the network. Tell us an idea that didn't make it out of the writers' room.
Baer: Trying to figure out if the ghost poops.
TV Guide Magazine: We know you from ER and Law & Order: SVU, among other shows. Any credit you'd prefer that IMDB erase?
Baer: I've been fortunate to have worked the past 18 years on only those two shows. So if I deleted one, I'd be deleting half my career.
TV Guide Magazine: Fill in the blank: If you like __________, you'll love A Gifted Man.
Baer: "Terrific TV on Friday nights."
TV Guide Magazine: Of your cast members, who would fare best on Celebrity Apprentice?
Baer: Margo Martindale. She would fire Donald Trump's ass.