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TV Guide

Old Blood, New Blood On ER
Jeanne Wolf, Lauren Kane
January 27, 2000


Aging NBC medical drama ER has been infused with some new blood and some old blood this season, thanks to Erik Palladino and Ming-Na.

Producers hope the hunky Palladino will help fill the void left by anti-hero George Clooney, but the actor says his character, the often-offensive Dr. Dave, is just "a young guy trying to make his mark." Unfortunately, some fans don't seem to understand that. "They get mad. I think because television comes into people's homes [they feel as if] you're part of their family. So they have that kind of visceral reaction and they carry it all the way to the mall, you know?"

Ming-Na, who some ER buffs may remember as Deb Chen from the show's first season, is pleased to be returning to the top-rated show on TV. Why the sudden re-emergence? "I'm not sure," she says. "It'll be fun to explore that. As long as I'm back, that's all I care [about]." 

We, however, are curious about the fact that Ming-Na has dropped her last name, Wen, from her stage moniker. "I felt like Ming-Na was distinctive enough that it was OK to drop [Wen]." Her shortened handle, she explains, is "like Ann-Margret with the dash. That's what I try to tell people." Adds a sarcastic Palladino: "Well, at least she's not a symbol."

Any chance sparks will fly between Deb and Dave? "[The producers] are kind of like the FBI they don't tell us a lot," Palladino says. "They don't tell us anything, to be honest with you."

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