Published March 09, 2010
I promise this column wasn't planned in advance. Last week, I was scrambling for a topic for my column The Unreal World in the LA Times, where I examine TV and movies for medical accuracy. I chose Grey's Anatomy, which I hadn't written about in a long time, but after I watched it and was preparing to write the column about it, I discovered that it was a repeat from October, so I had to choose something else.
Time was running out and my deadline was approaching. I got my editor's approval to cover The Hurt Locker, which was really a 2008 film but was just up for an academy award this year. I thought it would be interesting to look at the question of how accurately the film handled devastating injuries from exploding bombs.
But then I noticed Crazy Heart, a story about an alcoholic country singer and composer. I decided to review this film, because it was just released, and also had a medical theme.
I had no idea that Jeff Bridges, who plays the musician, would be up for an Oscar for best actor. But when I saw the film, I saw an indication that this could be the case. In his most memorable role since Starman, not only did Bridges convincingly portray a musician, and sing all the songs himself, but he also appeared to be just as accurate when it came to portraying a broken down alcoholic.
On the eve of the Oscars, I conferred with some of the top experts in addiction medicine on the west coast and found that my initial perceptions were correct. Bridges had the medical facts right in addition to the musical facts. Readers of my column know how unusual this is. Facts fly away and are replaced by the pressing demand for drama. Not so with Bridges and Crazy Heart.
On Sunday night then, he won the Oscar for best actor, well deserved, and on Monday morning my columnon how tragically well he fit the part of the alcoholic was published in the health section of the LA Times. Grey's Anatomy would have to wait for the following column.
Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for the LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel is the author of a new ebook: Swine Flu; the New Pandemic. Dr. Siegel is also the author of "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic."Read more at www.doctorsiegel.com