TV drama "ER" draws last breath after 15 years

Tue Mar 31, 2009 6:01pm EDT
 
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Groundbreaking hospital drama "ER" draws its last breath this week after 15 years of blood, sweat and tears that changed storytelling on U.S. television and put fictional County General Hospital on the world's stage.

Thursday's two-hour season finale on the NBC network, preceded by a retrospective special, brings to an end a drama series that nearly never got made, yet boosted the careers of stars including George Clooney and won 22 Emmy awards, U.S. television's top honor.

But just as the fast-paced "ER" episodes over the years left many stories unresolved, viewers should not expect a neat ending or grand emotional farewell with many former stars appearing on the final show.

Clooney, who left the show in 1999, and other "ER" alumni including Julianna Margulies, Anthony Edwards, Eriq La Salle and Noah Wyle appeared earlier in this 15th and final season.

"We've spread them out over the season," Executive Producer John Wells, who wrote the finale, told Entertainment Weekly magazine. "I didn't want to do something like somebody dies, or there is a celebration, or the hospital closes, so that's why everybody comes back (during the season). I wanted it to be natural."

Author Michael Crichton, who died of cancer last year, wrote the screenplay for "ER" in 1974 based on his experiences as a medical student in a busy hospital emergency department.

But the it went nowhere until Crichton worked with director Steven Spielberg on the 1993 film "Jurassic Park," and later the two turned their attention to a TV pilot that eventually aired on NBC in September 1994.

A TOP-RATED DRAMA   Continued...

 
<p>John Stamos arrives at the series finale party for the drama "ER" in Hollywood, California March 28, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>