Three Rivers – You Ask They Tell: #AlexOLoughlin 2009

We are thinking of running themes and focus on a subject every week, for the weeks we still have left during hiatus. Not sure if it will work that way, because we both got kind of busy lately. But let’s try at least.

With all the talk about transplants, I thought it might be a good idea to start with the angelic Dr Andy Yablonski. I know not many like posts about Three Rivers and they are normally some of the lesser shared or liked articles.

It is however important for me to see how enthusiastic Alex was to be part if such a ‘real’ show and a subject like organ donation, that can be of such great value to so many people around the world. He really poured his heart into this one.

Alex O’Loughlin tells us about CBS’s new show ‘Three Rivers’

on ‘You Ask, They Tell’.


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Question: Can you describe your character on Three Rivers?

Alex: My character, his name is Andy Yablonski, and he’s a cardiothoracic surgeon at a hospital in Pittsburgh called Three Rivers. And he specializes, as does the hospital, in transplant medicine and transplant …. organ transplantation. And it’s … he is based on a real-life character called Gonzo Gonzales-Stawinski out of Cleveland.

The Cleveland Clinic, which is where I did my studying and research for this role and … with Gonzo. And the show …. the show we tell from three different points of view. We tell it from the point of view of the donor, the recipient, and … my character and the medical team at Three Rivers. And so it is a medical show that I believe we haven’t seen before.

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Question: What makes Three Rivers stand out from other television shows?

Alex: The fact that the core of the show, the heart, of the show if you will, is based in organ transplantation. It’s not something that has been done on TV before. We may have seen glimpses of it, but really not the way we are doing it.

We’re doing it with the utmost integrity, remaining intact at all times, for the truth of ….. of this field of medicine. And of …. you know, the other thing that we desperately try to do is dispel all the misconceptions and myths around organ donation. And you know one of the main ones is  …. you know, people are scared to become donors, because they have heard that …  if anything ever does happen to them, doctors in hospitals won’t try to save them, because their organs are … are available. Which is absolutely not true.

And I’m a spokesperson and ambassador now for Donate Life America, which is a great pleasure and a great privilege. And they are an incredible organization. And so, they have a website,, which you can jump on and find all sorts of information about the truth about organ donation. About how important it is. About how many lives you can affect. You can actually save up to 8 lives and affect up to 50, by being an organ donor. And so …. yeah, and I am. I am an organ donor.

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Question: How did you prepare for this role?

Alex: The clinic was a huge … the Cleveland Clinic was a huge part of my preparation. And my time with Gonzo …. I spend a lot of time with Gonzo on the phone before I got to Cleveland. I went to Cleveland a number of times and spend blocks of time there, staying at the hotel which is connected to the hospital. Which is funny because in the story my character lives in the hotel connected to the hospital, because he is separated from his wife. He’s in a transition phase of his life.

But my preparation for this …. I …. from the minute I made the decision and said yes to the job, I went into my research and preparation like a bull at a gate. And I didn’t stop. I actually still haven’t stopped, because it is such a massive thing.

Medicine is …it’s like law, or science. It’s another language, it’s another world away. These people train for 15 years before they can, you know, do what these guys do. And so, it’s taking a lot. And there’s a lot of … I live in textbooks …. in medical textbooks and encyclopedias. And on the phone to my ….. my friends who are surgeons and doctors. And just …. I’m forever learning, and there’s just so much to learn. And so, I’m doing my best.

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Question: What will you take away from playing a role like this?

Alex: I find it very interesting. I find …. I’m fascinated with medicine. And I’m borderline obsessed with this stuff. I mean the thing is there’s … medicine at this level, you know, surgeons…. I just ….. what they do is incredible. It’s so fascinating to me. I’ve spent a lot of time in the OR as well. Like shoulder to shoulder with my man there, watching two feet away ….. at somebody’s open chest and heart pumping and lungs breathing. And watching them go on bypass and then the surgeon comes in and does all his stuff.

I mean it’s …. It really changes …. It’s really changed my perspective on life. It really like … I mean it really shifts the way you view life. To see how resilient we are on the inside as well as on the outside of our bodies. And I mean, it makes you question faith, and religion and whether this is in fact a second chance that we think we’re going to get after this life. I mean it’s pretty … it opens up a whole bunch of philosophical debates.

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Filed under Alex O´Loughlin, Charity, Dr Andy, fixing hearts, Interviews, Three Rivers, Transcript

12 responses to “Three Rivers – You Ask They Tell: #AlexOLoughlin 2009

  1. karen

    I’m sorry his enthusiasm couldn’t save the dismal script writing of TR. I own the DVD and have never watched it. I can’t make myself. Dr. Andy was so handsome though.


  2. Karen

    Thank you for sharing this interview. I have downloaded Three Rivers and enjoyed watching the show. It was really different. I wonder if the writers of Episode 25 in season 6 came to Alex and asked him for some input.


  3. THX for highlighting this show, even thought it hasn’t always been well received here. Three Rivers dealt with a tough subject, organ donation, and most of the time that means someone must die in order for that to happen. I’m not sure the viewing public was ready at that time for a weekly diet of that on their screen. I may be in the minority of Alex fans but I loved Alex’s portrayal of Dr. Andy; Alex immersed himself in his prep for this role, he was so dedicated. I think the network rushed this series onto their schedule, it needed more time for finite details to be worked out and get the scripts in better shape. 3R’s had a tough timeslot on the CBS schedule, Sunday night after NFL football, that always went over their allotted time, so that 3R’s sometimes was a full hour beyond its slot. CBS didn’t even make an attempt to try a different place in their lineup, and did something else that I found odd… they transposed the first 2 episodes. There were things, relationships and characters, that were explained in the original first episode that actually aired as the second one. It certainly wasn’t a perfect series, far from it, but it still contained some powerful characters and episodes. Mandy Patinkin’s portrayal of a man with ALS should have gotten him an Emmy nom, but by then, 3R’s was gone from the schedule and the TV Academy didn’t want cancelled shows on their award show. I’ve always had my own theory about why CBS bailed on 3R’s so quickly, but I probably won’t ever know if I’m right.


    • gracenotpark

      I too loved Dr,Andy,although 3R was a flawed show in its earliest eps. It was definitely finding its feet and getting way better tho, and had they kept it, I think it would’ve been quite awesome by its season 2. I watch it occasionally. I just love Dr. Andy and thought Alex was particularly beautiful as that character.

      I too have a suspicion why it was canned so quickly. H50. CBS wanted Alex as McG and they had to kill DrAndy first to get him. So they did. And I guess good they did, cos I don’t think 5-0 woulda made it 7 seasons without him.

      Tho I woulda been happy with more DrAndy. 🙂


  4. Sallyann

    Thanks for posting this. I bought the DVD but haven’t got to watch it as it won’t play on DVD players in Ireland and ours hasn’t broken yet even though I’ve been encouraging the kids to stick things in it & the new pup to chew the wire 😂


    • Computers play different area coded dvds, you can actually change it a couple of times (under the dvd properties if I remember correctly). Not that difficult, but still can only be played on computer (if your TV is new, hook up the computer to it with hdmi cabel) 🙂


  5. Kath40

    Alex gave Dr. Andy a great bedside manner that anyone would love in their Dr.
    As usual Alex put 100% into brining a believable.Andy to life. I think that came from Alex’s devotion to his charter study to learn all he could about a thoracic transplant surgeon. Too bad the subject matter was a little too much (one had to die so one could live) for the viewers to handle each week. I guess there wasn’t enough sexy Dr. bed hopping all over the hospital between life saving operations to keep the target demo audience interested. Not to mention they only gave it 13 episodes to find it’s footing with said audience. 😦 The best relationship that I felt kept me interested was between Dr, Andy and Koul who sought out Dr. Andy because he was the best surgeon to get him a new heart and his optimism was just so infectious. They put a smile on my face every time they interacted with each other. 😀


  6. He was so dedicated to this role and topic. It’s tugging at my heartstrings thinking about it. (…no pun intended… I think… 😉 ) And as the show got really interesting it got cancelled. I would have loved to know more about Andy’s past. I have the DVD and once in a while I need my dose of Dr. Andylicious.
    But I think current Steve and current Alex beats him in the attractiveness level.


  7. cwtshjan

    The only piece of Alex work I haven’t seen. Never could get it to work. Ess sent me a link once but that didn’t work either. I may try again now. Love his passion in this interview. He really buries himself in his work. I think these days he’s more able to come up for air than he was back then. I guess that happens with a show that’s been renewed 6 times. He was handsome then and is still handsome now. I’m sure he’ll be sexy at seventy.


  8. Reblogged this on alex the manDeniseolo's Blog and commented:
    Watch this show its good


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