New York A young production staffer at “The Dr. Oz Show” wasn’t buttering up her boss when she took a bite out of a carrot as he approached in an elevator lobby recently.
Vegetables were on the menu. So were fruit, yogurt, whole-grain breads and natural peanut butter. True to a mission of making Americans healthier one at a time, Dr. Mehmet Oz banned all junk food backstage at his new talk show.
“The Dr. Oz Show,” starring the heart surgeon and health evangelist, debuts Sept. 14. It’s perhaps the most eagerly anticipated syndicated talk show since another Oprah Winfrey associate, Dr. Phil McGraw, went solo in 2002, said Bill Carroll, a market expert for Katz Television.
Oz has a sleek new studio at New York’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the same room where Conan O’Brien worked before heading West. Its most fearsome element is the “truth tube,” a platform that can display a person’s weight, body fat and other health indicators, much like “The Biggest Loser” scale.
His goal is to make health information interesting and entertaining without trivializing it.
“There is no question we can save lives every day if we can motivate people to do what we’re talking about,” Oz said in a backstage conversation over lunch (salads, of course). “The challenge isn’t what to say — because we know that — the challenge is how to say it so people are motivated.”
He expects few celebrity guests, and no Winfrey visit is on the schedule. The show will typically open with a health “hot topic” like swine flu or immunization, and will end with audience questions. In between, Oz will try different ways to make health advice personal, recognizing that lectures don’t work as well as stories viewers can relate to.
Paul Schneider, a firefighter who works in Lawrence, Kan., is scheduled to appear on the show for a segment with other men in their 30s and 40s who have “manly” jobs and need help getting healthy.