Universal Content Productions, a television production company that works under NBCUniversal, has begun shopping a TV adaptation of the 2018 true crime Dr. Death podcast, produced by Wondery, to networks and streaming services. The project is set to star East Ender Alec Baldwin, alongside Christian Slater and Jamie Dornan, who will portray Dr. Death. Baldwin will play neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Henderson, a sort of “company man” of the medical world who has absolute faith in the medical system that’s been so good to him.
Henderson’s faith is challenged when a newcomer to the Dallas medical community, neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch, aka Dr. Death, begins to botch routine spinal surgeries. The show will follow the efforts of characters played by Baldwin and Slater, and an assistant district attorney, to stop Duntsch.
The real-life Duntsch is responsible for the paralysis, maiming or death of more than 30 patients—in one case he left fragments of bone in a patient’s spinal cord; in another he severed vocal cords he mistook for a neck tumor; and he cut another’s major artery causing the patient to bleed to death. At the time of these incidents, his colleagues at the hospital came to regard his behavior as bordering on sociopathic. In 2013, Duntsch’s medical license was permanently revoked, but it was not until 2017 that he was criminally charged and convicted for his gross malpractice. He was sentenced to life in prison and is, thankfully, not up for parole until 2045.
In line with the TV show announcement, Wondery has announced the wildly popular Dr. Death podcast is being released in seven non-English languages. With the first two episodes released on August 15, and the next four to be released weekly, the most of the series will become available to people who speak Castilian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Mandarin and Korean. Episodes 7–10 are deemed bonus episodes and will not be translated.
Baldwin seems to be using his game show, Match Game on ABC, to prepare for the role. Wednesday’s finale saw a reunion of the medical comedy Scrubs as contestants. Baldwin donned a classic set of blue scrubs and the contestants wore lab coats. Baldwin has won awards for both comedic and dramatic acting, and is sure to flourish in this complex role.