How Scary is This? - Not.

The first Dr Oz show -- Sept 14th -- I think must be scary (not just exciting) for Mehmet. After all, he’s jumping out of his comfort zone of just being great doc in a high-powered heart valve-fixing Operating Room (just) and of letting Oprah make him look like he belongs on TV. (She’s the best interviewer, she brings out each guest’s bests.) He’s now an everyday 5-day a week host, a 1-full hour a day host. I keep wondering what I can do to make it easier for him. He is creating what we need in medicine: someone who can change the health of the nation without taxes or being outrageous at a town hall meeting.

Posted on | Mike Roizen, MD | Comments ()

The first Dr Oz show -- Sept 14th -- I think must be scary (not just exciting) for Mehmet. After all, he’s jumping out of his comfort zone of just being great doc in a high-powered heart valve-fixing Operating Room (just) and of letting Oprah make him look like he belongs on TV. (She’s the best interviewer, she brings out each guest’s bests.) He’s now an everyday 5-day a week host, a 1-full hour a day host. I keep wondering what I can do to make it easier for him. He is creating what we need in medicine: someone who can change the health of the nation without taxes or being outrageous at a town hall meeting.

Now you may know it from looking at us, but I’m a lot older than Dr Oz, or as we call him a la John St Augustine, “Mehmay.” That means you might erroneously think I should help him through rough spots. But I’m confident you will love this show so much you’ll skip work, even skip play (maybe not sex) for TV with Dr Oz. He’ll do well not because of help I give him, (or because of the great team he has assembled -- and he has assembled a great team) but he helps me more. He helps everyone I’ve seen him work with, the way Oprah does.

His joy and devilish ways of making health and life fun (combined with serious moments when needed) bring out the best in everyone I’ve seen him with. In future blogs I‘ll tell you about John the Saint, Craig, and all the teachers I’ve seen him learn from. I’ll tell you about the one person he didn’t bring out the best in. I’ll also tell you more about what I do for the show and my day job -- I have the best job, I can’t believe they pay me for it -- helping employees, patients and communities of the Cleveland Clinic get healthier as the Chief  Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute. My boss, CEO of the Clinic Dr. Toby Cosgrove, also taught Mehmet a little about heart valve surgery. (I’ll also talk more of the Cleveland connection for Mehmet in a future blog--this initial blog can’t be a book.)

Five days a week for 1 hour without Oprah -- or will she pop out and make an appearance? It’s one thing to come up with a visual that excites you to give you “ah-ha” moments once every 2 weeks -- 55 times in 5 years. It’s quite another to do it daily – 175+ times a season. Will he pull it off? I have no doubt. Why? Comes from watching him over the last 6 years.

Now you may not think it, or you may, but as I said I’m a lot older than Mehmet. I had been on Oprah 6 or 7 times before we first appeared together; it was a show about our first book, You: The Owner’s Manual. So I insisted we do a practice interview; he resisted but I insisted. So I had 2 of my friends in Chicago grill us. Dr. Oz was horrible (I still have the tape.) I was my usual A- to B+; he was a D- at best. The next morning, everything changed, everything changes from the run-through: the order we were to appear on the set with Oprah, the subjects we were to cover -- everything. And when the show started I was in the green room watching the closed circuit monitor as he led off.  He was an A +; No an A++++.  Who can forget S or C or J-shaped poop?  I wondered what happened overnight; did he stay up? (You’ll have to read a future blog for more on this!) I had my usual A-/ B+ appearance in the last third of the show (Mehmay was so good, I was not needed). In the After-the-Show segment, Oprah started moderating, but quickly realized Dr. Oz could do that. She left us on alone.

The pattern kept recurring: the first time we did the Dr. Oz Show on Oprah radio, he was barely passable -- I had done much more radio hosting at that time (4 years of my own 2-hour a week show and graded myself an A-/B+ as usual), but Dr. Oz was at best a D.  The next week after talking with John St. Augustine, the senior producer and experienced host, and maybe a little to Lisa and me, he was an A+. D- to A+ in 1 week; Lisa is his secret sauce. His playfulness and joy of life put everyone at ease, and we (myself included) all do better than we would. He, like Oprah, brings out the best in all around him.

So when people ask me how he’ll do, I’m not worried. I tell them to watch. I’m sure you’ll tell your kids about the first shows. I know I’ll be saying to my grandkids, “I knew Dr. Oz when …” You’ll tell yours, “I saw the first show on Sept 14, 2009.” And you’ll be able to relate that S or J or C-shaped poop insight. And smile. You were there.

Blog written by Mike Roizen, MD
Dr. Roizen is a past chair of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee and a former editor for 6 medical journals with...