Show Creator Josh Berman Talks ‘The Mob Doctor’ with Screen Spy
The Mob Doctor comes to FOX this Fall. From creators Josh Berman (Bones, Drop Dead Diva) and Rob Wright (Las Vegas) the show centers on up and coming surgeon Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) who finds her life turned upside down when her brother’s (Jesse Lee Soffer) gambling debts to the South Chicago Mob threaten his life. Seeing only one way to save her brother’s life, Grace offers the crime syndicate her services as payment for his life.
We recently had the opportunity to talk to show creator Josh Berman about the tone and direction of the show, the cast and their characters and just why ‘a world of grey’ is such an appealing proposition for a writer.
Screen Spy: You’ve written and produced for shows including Drop Dead Diva, Bones and CSI to name but a few, and although they are completely different shows with individual themes, they each have strong, smart female characters at their core. The Mob Doctor seems to be continuing that trend in Jordana Spiro’s Grace Devlin. Are you consciously drawn to create/write for those types of characters?
Josh Berman: Yes, I love writing about complicated women. Placing a strong, confident woman in a traditional man’s world (like the mob) is so much fun to write. Jordana is a fantastic actor. She was our first choice for this role and she nailed it!
SS: I know you mentioned over Twitter a short while ago that The Mob Doctor’s writers’ room was in session. Will you be writing any episodes, or will your duties as EP keep you busy?
JB: I will continue to write but I have a fantastic partnership with Rob Wright, my co-creator, and our new EP, Carla Kettner, who comes from Bones.
SS: People often make comparisons about new shows before they hit the air. I heard a comment the other day from someone who described The Mob Doctor as ‘House meets The Sopranos.’ Obviously the show will succeed on its own merits, but I was wondering if you have heard this or other comparisons, and what your thoughts are on them?
JB: Yes, I think any show about the mob will be compared to The Sopranos. I should be so lucky. The Sopranos was a brilliant show. That being said, the mob in Chicago is very different than the mob in NY. Furthermore, the mob has evolved a lot in the past decade, using technology more than fists – to make an illegal buck. We plan to be true to the new, Chicago mob world.
SS: Corruption versus redemption seems to be a strong (and compelling) theme on the show. Is this something Grace will find herself struggling with on a weekly basis? Is she going to (for want of a better phrase) find herself drawn to the dark side?
JB: Yes. Grace must walk a fine line. The mafia world can be dangerous but also alluring. She finds herself in compromising positions and there are not always right and wrong answers. She lives in a world of gray and that is an awesome texture for the show — as a writer.
SS: I was struck by the notion of family while watching the pilot. On the one hand, we have Grace’s slightly dysfunctional family that she is trying her damnedest to keep safe, and on the other there is the Mob family that demands her time too. One of the things I loved about The Sopranos was this ‘compare and contrast’ juxtaposition it had going on between these two definitions of family. Is this something we can expect to see in The Mob Doctor?
JB: Well, that’s a very good question. But there’s a third family in this show as well — The family at the hospital. Her biological family, her mob family, and the hospital family all put pressure and demands on Grace. She’s got a balancing act ahead of her. As I tell the actress, she’s going to be pulled in so many directions and she’s always an hour late.
SS: From what little I’ve seen, the cast looks very impressive. Is there anyone who stands out for you? I realize I may be unfairly asking you to pick favorites!!
JB: Oh, I love them all. Jordana is a star and a genuinely good person. I feel very lucky.
SS: Speaking of the cast, Screen Spy has a large Adam Harrington fan base. Any chance they’ll get to see his character beyond the pilot?
JB: We hope to bring Adam back… He plays an FBI agent on the show and is a real break-out character. He’s also playing a lawyer on Drop Dead Diva (my other show), later this summer.
SS: What drew you to choose Chicago as a setting?
JB: It’s the perfect setting for Mob related storylines, the city is gorgeous, and my mother’s family comes from the city.
Catch The Mob Doctor this Fall on FOX. Follow @TheMobDoctorFox and @ScreenSpy on Twitter for show updates.