Movieline On the Scene: Edie Falco Unleashes Nurse Jackie in NYC
Even Edie Falco, at Tuesday's lavish premiere for her new series Nurse Jackie, wasn't quite sure if the world needed another show set in a hospital. Not because of the competition, though. It's a little simpler than that.
"You know, I don't know anything about hospital 'shows,'" she told Movieline between well-wishes from guests running the gamut from LL Cool J to Eli Wallach to Steve Buscemi. "I don't really watch television. I don't really know anything about the genre. I just know I liked this character, and I liked who she was no matter what she did for a living. But I can't really say how it's different from other shows."
That part's especially easy. As the acerbic but dedicated title character, Falco snorts, sniffs, cuckholds and lies her way through 16-hour shifts at All Saints Hospital in Manhattan. Within the five minutes of the pilot, she's already forged the signature of a bike crash fatality who had declined to consent to organ donation. Of course, if her hot-shot young doctor had just listened to her seasoned advice in the first place, the victim would still be alive. Scrubs it's not.
But it is funny -- wincingly so at times, and almost always darkly so. Unless, that is, Falco muttering, "Fuck you," into an attempted murderer's severed ear doesn't quite do it for you. In which case you're probably not watching Showtime anyway. Still, Jackie wields a sharp dramatic edge as well, which Falco attributed in part not to the medical-melodrama genre, but rather the far pulpier hospital reality-show circuit.
"I did talk to some nurses," she said of her research. "But I mostly watched a lot of ER shows on TV. I got a lot more out of that than going to emergency rooms. Like Discovery Channel Drama? Life in the ER? 911: The Bronx? Mysteries of the ER, Untold Stories of the ER. I'm obsessed -- and long before this show came along."
On the other side of the room, between the spots where an oxygen bar and a photo booth labeled "MRI" had been set up to help round out the party's hospital theme, I ran into Jackie co-creator Linda Wallem. She had a more specific idea of what set the show apart from its contemporaries.
"I think it's because we have a nurse's point of view," Wallem said. "I was a big fan of ER, but I hated when nurses wanted to become doctors. I always wanted to hear more about the nurses, but it was all about the doctors. It's sad to say, but there probably really hasn't been a show like that since Julia. Remember that show?"
Your author draws a blank.
"Diahann Carroll? Like 1970? It was about a nurse. Anyway, I don't know. It's fun to have a nurse be the center and the anchor of a show." Fun, indeed -- especially the Percocet highs. Good stuff.
[Nurse Jackie debuts on Showtime June 8 at 10:30 p.m.; you can currently view an edited version of the pilot at YouTube.]