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In ‘911: The Bronx,’ Reality TV Gets Tough


In ‘911: The Bronx,’ Reality TV Gets Tough


Gritty ‘911: The Bronx’ takes Discovery Channel in a new direction.


A man who survived a fall is stabilized in the ER on ‘911: The Bronx.’

Real life washes up in the emergency room.

For camera crews shooting Discovery Channel’s “911: The Bronx” in the emergency room at St. Barnabas Hospital in the South Bronx, that real life includes gunshot wounds, a severe head injury to a man who jumped out of a window and a 12-year-old hit by a car and left with a mangled foot.

“When human beings get into trouble, they really get into trouble,” said Paul Gasek, the show’s executive producer and the senior science editor at Discovery. “These people are right at death’s door. This is the portal; the doctors are the gatekeepers.”

The show follows the staff of the emergency room as they grapple with a slew of patients. Some have been rushed to the hospital by ambulance, others simply walk in.

The program was shot last summer at St. Barnabas, a teaching hospital that cooperated on the production. Laws limiting the release of patient information made the work a bit of a challenge. After segments were filmed, the producers had to get permission to use them. Some people didn’t want their stories told.

“We shot an enormous amount of footage,” Gasek said. “But not all the stories panned out. Not all the people agreed to be on. We shot a number of stories that never made it to air, which we destroyed.”

Gasek admitted the show was a hard sell at the channel. There were questions about whether a gritty, sometimes gory, series fit in with the Discovery brand.

“This is not a medical show,” Gasek said. “It’s a reality show set in a hospital. We have heroes. We have real-life scenarios.”

In the first episode, one patient is the man who fell four stories, landing on his head. Another is a guy who sliced his finger on a meat cutter. Another is a pregnant woman with a broken arm. One of the most dramatic stories, however, is about a kid hit by a car. He keeps asking the staff if he’s going to die.

As of now, there are no plans to produce more than the six episodes available. Discovery will air three back-to-back, hour-long episodes tomorrow.

“There’s a little bit of uncertainty about whether they’ll [viewers] respond or not,” Gasek said. “If they tune in, they’ll have trouble turning away.

“This is really just about being in the hallway, being in the room. This is what you’ll see when there,” he said. “It’s visceral - I hope it’s not too visceral. I’m hoping people will respond.”


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    I have watched the show and found it a little to graphic !
  2. Lenny
    I guess now they went overboard. When COPS was in NY, the city would only allow NYPD chasing rats and other boring crimes to be shown!! Politics really censored what they showed on TV..

    I guess EMS, 911 and others in those industries will enjoy the show.