Dr. Ian Smith returns to “The Doctors” — this time as the revamped show’s solo host for its 13th season premiering Monday (8 a.m.) on WLNY/Ch. 55.
Smith, a physician and best-selling author, co-hosted “The Doctors” during its sixth season (2014-15) and has forged ahead with his TV and writing career; his newest book, “The Unspoken” — a fictional private-eye mystery out Oct. 1 — is already #1 on Kindle.
So Smith says he was surprised when he got the call on a Friday afternoon asking him if he wanted to return to “The Doctors,” which moved from LA to a studio in Stamford, Ct. for its new season — and counts Phil “Dr. Phil” McGraw and his son, Jay McGraw, among its executive producers.
“I was in my garden weeding on my knees, sweaty and dirty, when a number I didn’t recognize came up on my cell phone,” says Smith, 51, who lives in Chicago. “It turned out it was one of the executive producers of ‘The Doctors.’ We hadn’t spoken in a long time and she said, ‘We’re going to change the show around, reformat it, and we want different leadership on the air. Are you willing to do it?’
“By Monday we were talking about a deal. It happened very quickly and unexpectedly,” he says. “Sometimes things happen when you don’t expect it.”
This season’s theme, “Take Your Power Back,” is an umbrella mantra of sorts for how the pandemic has impact everyone,” Smith says.
“This is such an important season — perhaps the most important season in the show’s history,” he says. “We won’t be exclusively covering just the Xs and Os of medicine like the latest surgical procedure or dermatological secret. That’s our bread-and-butter, of course, and we’ll still be talking about that, but … we’re also expanding to cover wellness — mental health, spirituality — and finding topics that relate to our viewers.
“We’re doing a book club [encompassing] all types of books and we’re doing a segment I created called ‘The Pivot,’ where we’re talking to people with interesting stories and how they pivoted during COVID in their personal and professional lives,” he says. “We’ll have COVID-related segments on how to date, how to parent, how people can cook on a budget and about financial health and literacy.
“We’re also going to have musicians on the show,” he says. “Music is medicine and [musicians] will share their experiences and sing to us.”
Smith will host “The Doctors” in the studio and will interview guest remotely via Zoom.
“I’m in the studio by myself and the production staff is smaller than it’s been in past seasons,” he says. “We have to be more creative and there’s a lot of technology to deal with and it doesn’t always go smoothly. My days will be a little longer than they would be with a live audience.
“We want to inspire, challenge and have some fun,” he says. “People need to laugh a little more.”