The Hollywood Medical Reporter – An Introductionby Daliah Leslie | April 28, 2014
”Ow!… I Love It. Shit, that hurts! More! More!”
A young man smacks himself, hard.
The small group of grad students watching from the other side of the classroom flinch with the sound of the blow. They watch him with a rapidly increasing level of embarrassment.
“The voices! Oh no, the voices!…”
Then, in a horrible attempt at an Australian accent… “Cricky! Oh fucking cricky, NO! Not the voices!”
His eyes squint with grotesque – and forced – intensity as he switches his accent to vaguely Asian…perhaps Chinese? “Owww… Ching! Voices… They… they fucking haunt me.”
A punch to his stomach.
The teacher finally has had enough.
“What exactly are you doing?”
The young man is taken a bit aback: “Well… I mean, I’m a masochist.”
“I see. Do you have ANY idea, any idea whatsoever, what a masochist is? What they feel? Why they feel it?”
There is a long, uncomfortable pause as the young man earnestly considers. “Maybe not.”
That is of one of my favorite stories my father told me about his experiences in film school. Some people, after hearing this story, have told me to cut the guy some slack. After all, he wasn’t there to be an actor. He, just wanted to be a writer, like my father, and like me. This was an acting class the school required, so how would he know what to do? While this is a fair point, it is also just as true that all writers – just like actors – must have at least an acquaintance with what they’re writing – or acting -about. Writers can only write about what they know… and nothing else.
What’s the point here? This blog, that’s the point. I should explain…
While there are no extra letters after my name it is not misleading to claim that this blog will provide medical expertise while discussing film and television. See, some time ago, I was working on a TV pilot (the first episode of a potential series) that demanded a great deal of medical knowledge. Not having a highly paid staff of medical advisors, and not wanting to take time off to go to medical school, I decided to do what most writers do in such a situation: Google as much as I can, and make up the rest.
Unfortunately, while my experience in the industry has beaten most of the morals out of me, I couldn’t help but want to only use factually based, accurate information. During my research, I stumbled upon an article written by Dr. Shaheen Lakhan. It was probably my east coast stupidity (or is that arrogance?) that led me to believe that I could just contact him and he’d answer my questions. To everyone’s surprise, Dr. Lakhan responded to me. He answered my questions, and I answered his questions about my pilot. We began working together on various undertakings, which we continue to do.
We were lucky to have stumbled onto each other, which gave us the opportunity to collaborate and share each other’s worlds. It also made us think about what other writers (mainly aspiring ones) do when expertise is required of them to fill the content of their pages. This got us to further think: what kinds of distortions are caused by the lack of knowledge writers have about the world of medicine? How many writers and actors are hitting themselves on the heads with baseball bats to portray masochism? How many other matter-of-fact inaccuracies are shown every day? And how does that influence the attitudes of viewers of such nonsense?
This blog, The Hollywood Medical Reporter, will reflect a combined perspective of medical proficiency and media expertise through film and television reviews as well as other discussion forums. It will examine the significance of media influences on the viewing society, particularly as they relate to the world of medicine.
Oh, and what ever happened to the kid who was told to write about something other than masochism, and instead write about something he knew, something he was familiar with? He changed course and wrote a script about a young man’s mother who dies and is reincarnated as his penis. I’m told no one really wanted to ask too many questions.
Daliah Leslie is a professional writer and consultant, specializing in the film and television industry. After graduating from Hampshire College, Daliah worked in project development at Unique Features, a company founded by Oscar winners Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye (The Lord of The Rings). As a screenwriting consultant, Daliah has worked with is Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph J. Ellis, writing a feature film treatment based on his historical novel, Founding Brother’s: The Revolutionary Generation. She has also worked for companies including Film Independent, Salty Features, and RPM Int., along with sharing her expertise with numerous screenwriting competitions.
Shaheen Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, is a Clinical Instructor of Medicine (Neurology) at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. After graduating from medical school at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, he began his residency in neurology at the Cleveland Clinic. He is executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, on the editorial board of several BioMed Central publications, and instructor of functional neuroanatomy at UCLA Extension. As a member of the American Academy of Neurology’s Distance Learning Subcommittee, he develops online educational courses for neurologists, neuroscientists, and trainees.
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