New 'Oz' Prescription:Add Fun to Regimen

Veteran talk show aims to induce laughing fits— and ratings jumps—in celeb-heavy season five
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Why This Matters
With the safety of a renewal through 2017, Dr. Oz producers are hoping that adding levity helps keep the format fresh.

With last season’s success of somewhat more irreverent talk shows including Warner Bros.’ Ellen, NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey and Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly and Michael, “fun” has become daytime talk’s buzzword. So as it begins season five, Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz plans to inject some fun into everything it does, whether it’s feeling human organs or talking about yeast infections and hemorrhoids.

“Coming up with these segments isn’t that hard,” says Oz executive producer Amy Chiarro. “We are always able to come up with crazy demonstrations that help you understand [these things]. Every health topic has some super-entertaining, crazy, electrifying way to explain it.”

That doesn’t mean that Dr. Mehmet Oz—a famed cardiologist, health expert and now talkshow host —is suddenly morphing into a stand-up comic.

“The comedy is that he’s a little bit of a fish out of water when it comes to life’s funnier moments. Still, at no point do we want him to break the trust the audience has in him by being too silly,” says fellow executive producer Mindy Borman.

One recently filmed segment found Oz teaming with the makeup folks from NBC’s Saturday Night Live, who made him up as a woman. Oz producers had the disguised doc work in a shoe store, attempting to convince women to stick with sensible shoes with low heels instead of buying the super-high heels so popular now.

In another segment, the show’s team set up a queen-sized bed in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport and had couples get in it to show Dr. Oz how they sleep and find out whether they are sleep-compatible.

Doctor to the Stars

More celebrities will be appearing on the show this season. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler will drop in, giving Dr. Oz a chance to examine his vocal cords. Let’s Make a Deal and Whose Line Is it Anyway?’s Wayne Brady talks about how improvisation helped him overcome anxiety and speech issues and then demonstrates his improv prowess with Oz.

“Celebrities have been approaching us,” says Borman. “They can have a really authentic conversation with Dr. Oz about their health that’s hard to replicate anywhere else.”

Season to date, Oz is averaging a 2.4 liveplus- same-day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, down 14% compared to last year. This summer, Oz was the No. 3 talk show behind Dr. Phil and Live. In May, Fox renewed Oz through 2016-17 in 13 markets.

Meanwhile, Oz is keeping his medical skills in top shape. Twice in August, he was first on the scene for two medical emergencies. After a Dr. Oz-hosted 5K run on Aug. 17 in Salt Lake City, Oz leapt to the aid of Ken Roosa, a 53-year-old man suffering from heat stroke. And on Aug. 23, Oz arrived first after 23-year-old British tourist Sian Green had her foot severed when she was hit by a runaway cab outside of Rockefeller Center, where Oz’s studio is housed. Says Borman: “Dr. Oz will always be America’s doctor.”

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