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Marcia Gay Harden on CBS’ ‘Code Black’: ‘It’s real, it’s raw’

The CBS drama "Code Black" takes place in the nation's busiest, most notorious emergency room, where the staggering influx of patients can outweigh the limited resources available to the doctors and nurses whose job is to treat them all, creating a condition known as Code Black. The show premieres on Sept. 30.

The CBS drama “Code Black” takes place in the nation’s busiest, most notorious emergency room, where the staggering influx of patients can outweigh the limited resources available to the doctors and nurses whose job is to treat them all, creating a condition known as Code Black. The show premieres on Sept. 30.

(CBS)

Marcia Gay Harden said the role of Leanne, from CBS’ new medical drama “Code Black,” was “so good” that she “could not say no.”

“I was a little nervous about it because I’m a single mother of three and I know what life is like on set,” the actress, who has worked on shows such as “Law & Order: SVU,” and “Trophy Wife,” said Monday at the Television Critics Assn. summer media tour in Beverly Hills. But “my kids were like ‘Mom, do it, do it, do it.’ They were really behind me, so that was important.”

The “ER"-esque drama, set in the busiest emergency room in the nation, is slated to debut on Sept. 30. Harden said she was drawn to the show because “it’s real, it’s raw.”

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“This is drama, documentary style,” she said. “There’s not beautiful lighting. ... The amount of knowledge they want us to acquire -- so that it feels authentic -- is a lot. I have to remind myself all the time that SAG is behind my name, not M.D.”

The show’s executive producer, Michael Seltzman, said the actors went through a “medical boot camp” and were asked to learn a glossary of terms. The show hired 30 real medical staff members, who are both on and off screen.

Full coverage: Television Crtitics Association press tour 2015

“The whole concept of the code black ... is basically the moment when the influx of patients is so great that it overwhelms hospital staff and they can’t treat everyone properly,” Seltzman said, calling the show “incredibly authentic.” There’s “nothing Hollywood” about it, Seltzman added.

Though medical dramas such as “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” have been done before, Seltzman said he wanted to make the show unique after seeing physician Ryan McGarry’s documentary, of the same name, about Los Angeles County Hospital’s trauma bay.

“At the end of the day, Michael has given us a show that’s not snarky,” Harden added.

For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h on Twitter.

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