February 26, 1997

Nbc’s New ‘Crisis Center’ Will Share Fast Pace Of ‘Er’

Patricia Brennan The Washington Post

First there was “ER,” NBC’s fast-paced ensemble series about a busy hospital emergency room in Chicago.

Now there’s “Crisis Center,” NBC’s fast-paced ensemble series about people who work with the emotionally and psychologically unstable and people in troubled circumstances in San Francisco.

Surely you’re not surprised. “ER” so effectively crushed its medical-show competition, “Chicago Hope,” that CBS moved its series to another night.

‘It’s very flattering to be compared to ‘ER,’ but the bar’s high,” said Lindy DeKoven, NBC’s senior vice president for movies and miniseries, who is supervising her first series.

“We didn’t set out to copy ‘ER,’ but we set out to create the environment of a crisis center, and it happens that the frenetic pace is similar.”

“Crisis Center,” debuting Friday night while “Homicide: Life on the Street” takes a break, is one of several midseason series. Others are CBS’s “Temporarily Yours” and “Feds”; ABC’s “The Practice,” “Spy Game” and “Arsenio”; and NBC’s “Just Shoot Me” and “Prince Street,” all debuting next week.

In addition, Fox’s “Pacific Palisades” will debut April 6. Holding for premiere dates are NBC’s “Fired Up,” Fox’s “Lawless” and CBS’s “Life … and Stuff.”

“Crisis Center” star Kellie Martin plays a 21-year-old psychology student doing an unpaid internship at the San Francisco Assistance Center. Martin, a 21-year-old student at Yale who played a teacher in the series “Christy,” said the “Crisis Center” part was created for her.

“From the moment you meet Kathy (Goodman), she’s a likable character,” Martin said. “She messes up in the teaser of the pilot, so you know she makes errors. She tries really hard, but she doesn’t know what she’s doing. You usually don’t have a show through the eyes of a 21-year-old.”

Martin has been fortunate in that regard. She played Becca on ABC’s “Life Goes On,” where Thania St. John was a writer. For “Crisis Center,” St. John is the creator and executive producer and writes some episodes.

The one-hour series, which also stars Dana Ashbrook, Nia Peeples, Matt Roth, Tina Lifford and Clifton Gonzales Gonzales, focuses on staffers who help victims of date rape and domestic violence, people who are involved in child-custody disputes and, in the show’s opening story, potential suicides.


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