Fox’s pop­u­lar ‘The Res­i­dent’ cre­ated by Buf­falo Sem­i­nary grad

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LOS AN­GE­LES – Amy Holden Jones isn’t ex­actly a house­hold name in Western New York.

But the 1971 Buf­falo Sem­i­nary grad­u­ate’s med­i­cal se­ries set in At­lanta, “The Res­i­dent,” has en­tered more WNY house­holds than any other Fox scripted drama se­ries this sea­son.

“Re­ally, I did not know that,” Jones said at a Fox party last month.

The suc­cess of “The Res­i­dent” here is un­der­stand­able since Buf­falo loves hos­pi­tal shows. ABC’s “The Good Doc­tor” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and NBC’s “New Am­s­ter­dam” and “Chicago Med” are among the most­watched pro­grams here.

“Of course, it has a lot of hos­pi­tals, right,” Jones said.

Jones co-cre­ated the Mon­day se­ries starring Matt Czuchry (“The Good Wife”), Emily VanCamp (“Ever­wood”) and Bruce Green-

Alan Perga­ment

wood that fo­cuses on the good and bad prac­tices in medicine.

Her med­i­cal ex­per­tise is partly the prod­uct of be­ing the daugh­ter of a late Roswell Park cancer re­searcher, Dr. Ralph Jones.

Jones also cred­its Buf­falo Sem­i­nary – her best friend there was au­thor Lauren Belfer (“City of Lights”) and they keep in touch – with hav­ing an in­flu­en­tial im­pact on her life.

“Buf­falo Sem­i­nary was a fan­tas­tic place for me,” Jones said. “It was al­most a sal­va­tion for me. It was very good for me to go to an all-girls school and in that era – the ’70s – it was re­ally hard for women . ... It pro­vided a world we could run and con­trol.”

She was the pho­tog­ra­phy edi­tor of the year­book, the head of the court of con­duct and vice pres­i­dent of the stu­dent coun­cil.

“We did a lot of stuff that was very em­pow­er­ing,” she said. “I still feel very at­tached to some of the peo­ple at the Sem­i­nary.”

Missed di­ag­no­sis

The missed di­ag­no­sis of her own back prob­lems more than 15 years ago also had a big in­flu­ence on her writ­ing med­i­cal shows. She said her in­ternist sent her to phys­i­cal ther­apy. Af­ter six months, the pain got so bad she couldn’t lean back. She headed to Google, read there was no such thing as mid-back pain, had an X-ray taken that re­vealed there was noth­ing wrong with her back and sought another opin­ion from “a great di­ag­nos­ti­cian.”

“He quickly fig­ured out I had pleurisy – which is an in­fec­tion of the lin­ing of the lung, which is very painful – that caused back pain,” she ex­plained. “Fol­low­ing that, I be­came in­ter­ested in how com­mon missed di­ag­no­sis is. The re­al­iza­tion all the first doc­tor had to do was lis­ten to my lungs, but doc­tors don’t do much any­more be­sides write a pre­scrip­tion and send you to a spe­cial­ist.”

She read sev­eral books about medicine that em­pha­sized the field is driven more and more by ex­pen­sive tests rather than face-to-face time.

“My father had al­ways said di­ag­no­sis comes from the phys­i­cal exam and tak­ing a very care­ful his­tory with the pa­tients,” she said.

She con­cluded that if her first doc­tor had asked, she would have told him she just had a bad flu and he might have re­al­ized it lin­gered in the form of an in­fec­tion of the lin­ing in the lung.

A suc­cess­ful screen­writer with a re­sume that in­cludes “Mys­tic Pizza,” “Indecent Proposal” and “Beethoven” (one of her fa­vorites), Jones de­cided she wanted to write a med­i­cal se­ries around 2003 when the film busi­ness was chang­ing, and tele­vi­sion was be­com­ing Amy Holden Jones says the show has evolved some­what since the pi­lot.

more in­ter­est­ing.

She was asked if she’d like to write a show in one of the four most pop­u­lar TV gen­res – a de­tec­tive show, a cop show, a med­i­cal show or a lawyer show.

“I said I’d like to write a med­i­cal de­tec­tive show,” Jones said. “It was be­cause my father had a floor at Roswell Park with other doc­tors as they did cancer re­search. He was a very good di­ag­nos­ti­cian. … He dealt with peo­ple who no­body could find a di­ag­no­sis, which is more com­mon than peo­ple re­al­ize.”

Break­ing through

Her first TV pi­lot was called “The 17th Floor,” a floor de­signed to di­ag­nose im­pos­si­ble dis­eases. She said she sold it to CBS, which didn’t want to make it, but wouldn’t let it go to NBC when it tried to buy it.

When the med­i­cal drama “House” pre­miered in 2004 with a sim­i­lar con­cept, Jones said her show be­came ob­so­lete.

She learned some lessons in the process of her med­i­cal show be­ing de­clared dead.

“The game of get­ting a show on the air is heav­ily rigged in fa­vor of peo­ple who al­ready have shows on the air,” she said. “They know those peo­ple can de­liver. There is a male-fe­male qual­ity to it, too. At least there was at that time pe­riod. Very few shows were cre­ated by women on the ma­jor net­works. So I kept fighting that fight.”

She wrote a med­i­cal se­ries in 2008, “HMS,” about Har­vard Med­i­cal School for the CW that didn’t make it past the pi­lot stage.

“They picked up a dif­fer­ent pi­lot that did not test well that was about cheer­lead­ers,” she lamented.

She did get a 2014 ABC sum­mer se­ries, “Black Box,” on the air about a brain doc­tor who was bipo­lar that was “some­what in­spired by stuff re­lated to my father.”

“My father was bipo­lar and it was con­trolled with lithium very well,” she ex­plained. “I think peo­ple didn’t re­al­ize bipo­lar is a very treat­able form of men­tal ill­ness.”

‘The Res­i­dent’

“The Res­i­dent” came about af­ter a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of film direc­tor An­toine Fuqua (“Train­ing Day,” “The Equal­izer”) called and said Fuqua wanted to do a show about a big city hos­pi­tal “where there are things that go bad as well as things that go well.”

Jones’ re­sponse: “I’m the per­son for you.”

She sold the con­cept for “The Res­i­dent” to Show­time, but the pay-ca­ble net­work passed. The show was im­me­di­ately picked up by Fox.

“It has evolved some­what since the pi­lot to be much more – it was orig­i­nally about the young res­i­dents who were try­ing to change medicine and the good doc­tors try­ing to make it bet­ter,” Jones said. “I’m very aware of how many won­der­ful physi­cians there are who want this sit­u­a­tion to change.”

A big story line over the first sea­son in­volved the re­luc­tance of Green­wood’s char­ac­ter to ad­mit his sur­gi­cal skills were de­clin­ing while Czuchry’s char­ac­ter felt Green­wood’s char­ac­ter was jeop­ar­diz­ing the lives of pa­tients.

“This year’s sec­ond sea­son be­came much more about the cor­rup­tion of money in medicine,” Jones said. “The first sea­son was more about this prob­lem that does ex­ist … there are very bad doc­tors out there and there is al­most noth­ing to stop them, which is kind of ridicu­lous.”

“Bruce’s char­ac­ter was not un­remit­ting evil, but he was bad,” Jones said. “He is still bad, but not quite as bad as he was. Now he is more money driven. We made him the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer to make it more about the money, which is a much big­ger prob­lem than in­di­vid­u­ally bad doc­tors. Those are more rare, though they do ex­ist.”

Buf­falo mem­o­ries

Jones has lived in Los An­ge­les for 35 years, hav­ing met her hus­band, cin­e­matog­ra­pher Michael Chap­man, when they were both work­ing on Martin Scors­ese’s “Taxi Driver.”

She re­mains a big fan of Buf­falo, hav­ing moved here when she was 11 years old and liv­ing on Cleveland Av­enue in the city.

“I think it is one of those cities that I would per­son­ally love to live now,” Jones said. “It doesn’t have an over­the-top pop­u­la­tion, but has an out­sized arts scene, univer­sity scene, sym­phony, art gallery, mu­sic. Ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing with­out be­ing an over­whelm­ing size.’”

Is there any chance she’d throw some­thing in a script about Buf­falo?

“I cer­tainly can try,” Jones said. “We are about to do a snowed-in episode. I could prob­a­bly men­tion, ‘What is this, Buf­falo?’ ”

That prob­a­bly would be greeted as hap­pily as back pain.

Bruce Green­wood, Emily VanCamp, Matt Czuchry and Daniella Alonso star in “The Res­i­dent” on Fox.

Photo cour­tesy Amy Holden Jones

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