Brian White arrives at the World Premiere of “The Game Plan” at the El Capitan Theater on September 23, 2007 in Hollywood, Calif. (AP Photo / LMartinez)
Anyone who has had, or knows someone who has had, heart disease knows that there are many drugs that cannot be spoken. âLaughterâ, of course, is not one of them.
But “The Heart Specialist” (2006), released on DVD Tuesday, shamelessly defends the proposition that laughter is the best medicine. It might not heal, but comedy can certainly help the healing process tremendously.
In a recent interview with the athlete turned model turned actor, Brian White spoke about the comedy drama in which he plays Harvard Medical School graduate Ray Howard, a “playa in a white coat” who gets his award for his manners de lothario when he was an intern at a Florida C-rated hospital run by an eccentric chief resident, Dr. Sidney Zachary (Wood Harris). “Dr. Z” practices medicine by day and performs at night. He willingly takes Howard under his wing – and, along with his beautiful and (truly) Platonic friend Donna (Zoe Saldana) – teaches him a few life lessons that affect him in unexpected and profound ways.
Turns out the story was written by Dr. Dennis Cooper, a real doctor. When asked if the story is based on fact, White responds:
BW: What’s really cool about “The Heart Specialist” is that Dennis Cooper, the writer-director-producer himself is a doctor, acclaimed TV screenwriter – “Hill Street Blues”, “Miami Vice “- who decided he wanted to honor his friend David, who is also a doctor, with this kind of story.
And originally he took it to the studios and they said, ‘Sure’ – ‘just recast it with a mainstream cast (read: Caucasian), [and weâll] put the money in it. Dennis said, âNo, I guess I’ll have to go the long wayâ¦â He and David collected the money themselvesâ¦ and here we are.
Dennis is Caucasian and his production partner Kristin Overn is also Caucasian. When he started releasing this movie, Dennis realized he had a tough road as a non-noir writer-producer-director making a movie. [for a Black audience].
â¦ It was difficult to get a distribution deal so we handed the movie over to my mate Tyler Perry, he gave Dennis some ratingsâ¦ we added a few other things to make it more comicalâ¦ so we could do it know people.
White said, âIt was a real eye-opening experience seeing the process of Dennis’ journey to bring this film to market and what it really needed to changeâ¦ and it inspired me to work even harder to make these things happen. do not. I don’t need to change next time and we can make better movies every time. So it was an honor to work with Dennis and to see him work so hard to honor his friend.
LAS: One of the central premises of the film is that laughter can heal. Is this really Dr. Cooper’s philosophy?
BW: Yes, yesâ¦ Your attitude and your mood affect everything. Hope matters, you know. Happy people get sick less often than sick peopleâ¦ Everyone gets the call from their parents to call their grandparents – and the reason is that it makes them smile and brightens their day, both physically and emotionallyâ¦
White notes that “Dennis is a very intelligent manâ¦ he’s a doctor himself at Harvardâ¦ he remembers”â¦ sitting down with Wood and Zoeâ¦ and it was a low budget movie. We didn’t do it to get paid, and we all went to lunch that first day, saying the script was really specialâ¦ â
LAS: It was a lot of fun. The scenes at the beach were really specialâ¦ and it was refreshing to see a Platonic friendship between two blacks and add to that the element of comedy that really, really worked – mostly because it was a three-way friendship. .
Did you have any experiences that influenced your role as a doctor while you were working on this film?
BW: Well, one of the things that was very powerful and deep was that Dennis and David were on set every day, so we probably went through medical training camp more often than they did. have it on most TV showsâ¦ they wanted a doctor to examine it. to say, “It’s realistic, genuine”, so I really appreciated the attention to detail Dennis was able to get on a 15 day shoot.
We all think it’s important to give the younger generation new ideas and new role models to aspire toâ¦ Most of what they see aren’t doctors, lawyers, Cosby showsâ¦ they watch anything but thatâ¦ So I try to find more people like Dennis Cooper who want to make inspiring, motivating, positive type films that show Platonic relationships, supportive relationships, intellectual relationships, inspiringâ¦
LAS: In some scenes, I felt like I was witnessing a real operation!
BW: And that’s what Dennis said: The mood in most ERs is light because these guys couldn’t take it. The subject you are dealing with is so real, therefore life and death, that the attitude has to be kept light just to deal with it – it’s kind of like a policeman or a firefighter [work] â¦ Their work is so trying that laughter is the best medicine.
LAS: Is there something about medicine that has been around for a while, something that you’ve learned?
BW: Just the idea that medicine is something you don’t do unless you absolutely love it. These guys work 22, 24 hours for 5, 7, 10 years before they make any moneyâ¦ and that’s after 10 years of school! So, going through the process, even learning some technical terms, the dialogue, you realize how much these surgeons, doctors and specialists have to be educated, refined, buttoned up and how under pressure they are …
â¦ And just a healthy, healthy respect for what Dennis and David could have done. To become accomplished in this world? And then making the transition to become accomplished as writers, producers, and filmmakers, it’s just mind-boggling.
LAS: I used to watch your dad (Boston Celtics keep the great JoJo White) with my own dad. As an athlete turned actor, did he give you any lessons that in some way helped you become an actor?
BW: The no. 1 thing is confidence. As an athlete, you are only as good as your last throw.
# 2, Always be a student of games or craftsâ¦ Don’t miss the lesson.
# 3, Don’t rest on your laurels … I learned these three things from my father, and I apply them every day.
LAS: What about your mother?
BW: My mother is my role model. I just wrote a book called “Black Carpenter”. He talks about the lessons that have been passed on to me. And my mother is my idol; she is my no. 1 hero. I learned to be a man, I learned the benefits of education, I learned to think for myselfâ¦ My mom is everything!
LAS: So what’s next for Brian White.
BW: Today I’m working on a video of Monica (Brown) with Malinda Williams. The song is “Until It’s Gone”. There is also âWhat My Husband Doesn’t Knowâ with David E. Talbert. It will be in October, November.
My next movie is out – “Politics of Love” – ââthe movie has just been released on VOD and DVD. Then, on February 24, it’s âTyler Perry’s good deedsâ with me and Tyler Perry as brothersâ¦! “
To follow this multi-faceted talent, simply visit brianwhiteonline.com.