David Hollander discusses the greater cause this series touches upon.
David Hollander, Creator/Writer/Director/Executive Producer of Heartland, a new series on TNT that stars Treat Williams as a doctor in charge of a transplant center in a busy Pittsburgh hospital, shares his comments about the upcoming series. The show premieres June 18.
Where did the concept of Heartland stem from and how did the project come to be?
David Hollander: Growing up in the 1980's in Pittsburgh during a very real recession in the steel industry, two large points of cultural pride were the local professional sports teams and to a lesser but very real extent, the happenings in the local medical community. Of particular interest to me was the arrival of a man named Dr. Thomas Starzl, a ground breaking surgeon in the liver and kidney transplant field and also the man responsible for the successful implementation of anti-rejection drugs. Starzl was walking on the medical moon and as a teenager living close by, I was struck by the enormity of his actions and the amazing scope of the procedure itself.
Not simply the surgery, but the social impact; how a stranger could give life to another stranger, how two lives could forever merge, how lines of race, religion and economics were being instantly blurred and forgotten for a greater cause. As a writer who is very attuned to my home city and always interested in telling stories that cut across the social and economic fabric of any city, this world, with its amazing drive and cutting edge research but also its amazing proximity to death, rebirth and the hopes of second chances, has been floating around in my mind for years.
You have written very strong, relatable characters, a professional who is married to his work and a woman who struggles with work and home balance. Added to that, they are exes and they have to work together. Do these characters mirror anyone in your life? How do you think audiences will identify and react to these characters?
David Hollander: I do my best to write openly about the things I believe to be true. I trust that if I am disciplined in my approach to stories, that the fact that they have some basis in reality, mine or the other writers I work with, will immediately create a basis of connection. But I simply suggest humanity; Treat (Williams), Kari (Matchett), Chris (William Martin), Morena (Baccarin), Rockmond (Dunbar), Danielle (Nicolet), Gage (Golightly) and Dabney (Coleman) deliver it fearlessly. They are the show and the reason people will connect to it.
How did Treat Williams and Kari Matchett get involved with Heartland?
David Hollander: Treat and Kari were sent scripts and, thankfully, loved the characters. I am fans of theirs, have watched Treat for a long time and always admired his rare combination of availability without giving himself entirely away, and his truly undeniable presence. His desire to do the part was a gift to me, simple as that. Kari was more a revelation; I saw her work in Invasion and thought she was the most unusual leading woman on television, then I met her and felt the character I envisioned was delivered perfectly - she's both angelic and secretive, tough and kind.
At TNT, "We Know Drama." Where is the drama in Heartland?
David Hollander: We are all asking ourselves what it means to extend the lives of others at the risk of losing part of our own. We all do this, in every job every person endeavors to do. We ask ourselves that question and then forget about it and do the work. I think the drama in Heartland may be somewhere in there, somewhere we don't really expect it to be.
Heartland premieres Monday, June 18 at 10/9c on TNT.