BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Many people know Ken Jeong from his characters Ben Chang on NBC’s Community and Leslie Chow on The Hangover movie franchise. However, you may not know that he was born in Detroit, obtained his M.D. degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and practiced medicine at Kaiser Permanente hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Now, he gets to play a medical doctor on television. It will be a sitcom about the daily life of a brilliant physician who tries to balance his career with his family life, which can be difficult on both fronts, especially with having a therapist for a wife. Dr. Ken airs Fridays at 8:30 pm/7:30 pm central on ABC.
“This has been a labor of love,” Ken Jeong told the crowd during the panel discussion. “This is the only project based on reality. It really has come so full circle. I wanted to do something where I could also perform. In front of a live audience. I really ham it up. It’s so great to feed off that crowd. I really miss that. I wanted to do something different from community and the hangover. I’m learning a lot as the show runner and head writer.”
Dr. Ken will be the third show to feature an Asian-American family on American television. The first was Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, which premiered in 1994. The second was Fresh Off the Boat, which premiered last winter on ABC.
“I think ABC and Sony deserve so much credit,” Jeong added. “The Paley’s support of television is just historic. Just to have a panel at all is just a big honor.”
Dr. Ken also stars Suzy Nakamura as Allison Park, Tisha Campbell-Martin as Damona, Dave Foley as Pat, Kate Simses as Dr. Julie Mintz, Jonathan Slavin as Clark, Albert Tsai as Dave Park and Krista Marie Yu as Molly Park.
“I am so excited to be a part of this show because come on man, it’s Ken Jeong,” Campbell-Martin said. “When I first saw him, I was instantly a fan. I was like, ‘Who is this dude?'” As a matter of fact, my brother-in-law worked with him at the hospital that he used to work at. That’s how I actually knew of him. When I found out they were doing a show, it was a no-brainer. First and foremost, this dude is funny. But he also is a good person. I don’t care whether I have two lines or 20,000. I want to support this guy.”
Margaret Cho will guest star on the fourth episode, which will be titled “Dr. Wendi: Coming to L.A.!”
“It’s a fun bunch of people and Ken Jeong, obviously, is brilliant,” actor Dave Foley said. “Just to get to hang out and watch him work is fun. We’ve got some great writers. It’s a happy place to be. My character is an obtuse idiot who is in charge of the HMO. He is the only person in the show that doesn’t care about human lives. For me, I am a huge fan of multi-cam sitcoms. I grew up watching them–The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Cheers, Coach, Roseanne. It’s one of my favorite art forms.
Fans showed up as early as 7:30 am in the rain for the panel discussion and screening of the pilot episode.
“I’m a huge fan, Ken Jeong is amazing and the show is hilarious,” said Deb Rierson from Van Nuys, Calif. “He’s fearless, he will go that extra mile at all times to get that audience engaged whether they’re with him on the set or whether they’re at home. He’s going to do whatever it takes to make it the funniest thing you can see. I’ve seen the first episode and all of the others that they’ve shot so far. They can expect to see a show that has a lot of heart, but it is also just so funny. You can hear real people laughing. It’s got family, it’s got work, it’s got everything.”
The entire cast posed for a group photo after taking questions from the press.
“I think it’s a heartwarming family comedy based on my life,” Jeong explained. “It’s the most unique thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
Dr. Ken airs Fridays at 8:30 pm/7:30 pm central on ABC.