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June 25, 2019

Lives on the Line

Ann Curry seeks to solve medical mysteries in an innovative live TBS/TNT series.

Curt Schleier
  • Terence Patrick

"Even before we've gone on the air, our project has already changed someone's life," Ann Curry says. "I know we have something powerful that will help people."

That project is Chasing the Cure, a weekly series about solving medical mysteries. Owing to privacy rules, Curry — who hosts and executive-produces — won't say more about the project's first success, which occurred during an early run-through, but it was enough to make her a proselyte.

"Millions of people are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because they are limited by living in a silo of geography," she says, noting that many rural areas lack access to specialists and current diagnostic equipment. As a result, treatment is sometimes delayed or not offered at all.

Even people in large urban areas are often misdiagnosed. Chasing the Cure is meant to harness the power of television and the internet to provide answers.

"I think we're in a Galileo moment, compared to what is possible in the future," Curry says.

"We are going to be able to expose [patients] to top doctors who are going to be in our studio and analyzing test results. We will be reaching outside these silos of geography," she says, to connect isolated viewers to doctors who can diagnose symptoms — and even to other patients who have experienced similar distress.

"The mechanics are still being worked out," she notes, "but my thinking is that there will be more than one patient" for each 90-minute episode. The show will air live on both TBS and TNT, starting August 8.

Her enthusiasm is both personal and professional. Her own mother received a late cancer diagnosis, and while that did not affect the ultimate outcome, Curry says, "She didn't have to suffer, but she did."

Chasing the Cure is the brainchild of Jennifer O'Connell, head of alternative programming for Lionsgate, and Turner execs Kevin Reilly and Michael Bloom.

Their decision to pitch Curry was logical, since the show's premise is right in her wheelhouse. A winner of multiple Daytime and News & Documentary Emmys, she is perhaps best known for her Today show news reports from troubled areas around the world; she put a human face on even the worst tragedies.

She explores similar terrain on her current PBS series, We'll Meet Again, which reunites people whose lives intersected during tragic events. "I see a consistency," Curry says, "with all I've done, which is to give a voice to the voiceless. I always wanted to remind people that truth matters, and when we tell people the truth, we are always reminded of our own humanity."

That belief is deeply rooted in her own history. Before her parents — a streetcar operator and a U.S. sailor stationed in post-war Japan — could wed, he had to take on a military that discouraged servicemen from marrying locals.

Curry was born in Guam and raised for a time on a U.S. base in Nagasaki. When the family moved to Oregon, where she attended high school, she and her parents were subjected to racial slurs.

"I grew up watching how proud [my mother] was, how she wanted to be accepted. As a result, I grew empathetic, thinking of others. I decided I never will be silent."


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 7, 2019

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