1997: NBC's 'ER' Scores with a Live Episode
On this day in 1997, ER
opened its fourth season with a special episode, with the cast of the NBC medical drama performing two live broadcasts — one for the East Coast, and one for the West Coast.
The episode, titled "Ambush," placed a documentary film crew in the emergency room, following the Chicago hospital's doctors through their duties. Both performances went smoothly; the most notable gaffe occurred in the West Coast episode when an actor playing an HIV-infected patient dropped a syringe that he was supposed to use to threaten the staff.
The episode drew a record 42.7 million viewers, making it the show's highest-rated episode to date.
Created by author Michael Crichton and produced by Steven Spielberg and John Wells, the series' season four cast included Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Eriq La Salle, Julianna Margulies, Gloria Reuben, Laura Innes, Maria Bello, Alex Kingston and William H. Macy. The show ran a total of 15 seasons, making it the longest-running primetime medical drama.