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New Focus By Showrunner May Be Just What ‘Dr.’ Ordered

Related: ‘ET’ Moves Beyond Tonight

In her first season as the solo showrunner at Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz, Amy Chiaro plans to once again shift the show’s focus.

While Dr. Oz will continue to focus on health and wellness, in season 7 the show will spend a lot of time examining how the mind-body connection affects overall health and well being. Clearly, the plan is to boost the show’s overall ratings health as well.

The show is calling the effort the “Healthy Mind Project” and is looking at the topic from three angles—happiness, mental health and addiction.

In the program’s first week back on the air, Dr. Mehmet Oz will interview Creed front man Scott Stapp, who has battled depression and addiction. Stapp only found out he was bipolar after nearly killing himself during episodes of mania. Oz and Stapp discuss all of that in a lengthy interview that will set the tone for the season to come.

“We’re going to do deep dives into topics this season,” says Chiaro, who has been with Dr. Oz since it launched and executive produced alongside Mindy Borman—who departed at the end of last season—since 2013. “People are so inundated with information and noise. They have so many ways to get a quick answer, especially for subjects related to health. We don’t have to be the place of the quick answer.”

While Oz always tinkers with its health-based format at the beginning of each season, some tweaking is in order as the show faces steep ratings drops. At the close of last season, Dr. Oz was down 30% in season-to-date household ratings to a 1.4 most current household average this year from last year’s 2.0, according to Nielsen. While the show faced some noisy controversy last year, much of the ratings decline was due to time-period downgrades and the loss of double-runs in many markets.

Chiaro hopes to bring some viewer attention back with deeper exploration into compelling subjects. While Dr. Oz has never focused on celebrities, the show does plan to do in-depth interviews with celebrities who have health-related stories to tell, she says.

It will also look at some mental health and addiction-related issues that are affecting broad swaths of the population, such as suicide and mental illness on college campuses and the current wave of heroin use.

Another yearlong initiative that Dr. Oz is taking on—like its “Transformation Nation” weight-loss program two years ago—is called the “Blueprint for Balance.” Chiaro and her producing team are bringing in top minds and experts in the field such as CNN’s Sanjay Gupta; Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert; and Quiet author Susan Cain to give viewers tips for bringing balance to their busy lives.

“These are interesting, big thinkers who are putting together a big plan with interesting online components behind it,” says Chiaro.

Finally, the Oz team spent part of its summer “trying things so you don’t have to.” First up, Dr. Oz tries vaping e-cigarettes doused with caffeine and then undergoes a scan to see how that affects his brain. More such segments will be sprinkled through the show as the season goes on.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.