The stars and creative team behind Apple TV+’s “Five Days at Memorial” arrived at the Director’s Guild of America on Monday night for the series’ global premiere. The scorching LA heat wasn’t enough to deter fans who hoping for an encounter with the A list cast and their guests.
“Five Days at Memorial” is a powerful drama that chronicles the impact of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on a local New Orleans hospital. When the floodwaters surpassed four feet, it triggered a basement flooding that led to complete power failure and a medical disaster unlike anything in American history. As supplies dwindled and heat soared, exhausted caregivers were forced to make decisions that would follow them for years to come.
Academy Award winning writer John Ridley and Emmy Award winner Carlton Cuse recruited an award-winning ensemble that includes the likes of Vera Farmiga, Cornelius Smith Jr., Robert Pine, and Emmy Award winner Cherry Jones.
“Five Days at Memorial” is executive produced, written, and directed by Cuse and Ridley, with directorWendey Stanzler (“For All Mankind,” “Dispatches From Elsewhere”) also helming episodes.
The series is adapted from the book of the same name written by author Sheri Fink. In 2005, Fink had just returned from working overseas. Like many people, she was shocked to learn via the news that a doctor and two nurses were arrested and accused of murder in the Katrina aftermath.
“I had just come back from being a healthcare aid worker in war and disaster areas,” says Fink. “I’d written a book about a war hospital in Bosnia but I’d never heard about something like this in our country… it felt important to learn what really happened.”
Fink’s book, also titled Five Days at Memorial, has been taught in classrooms for years now and she’s embarking on a new novel about the COVID pandemic. When reflecting on all America healthcare disasters, Fink had a very clear message.
“My hope is that people understand the cost of failing to prepare for these very foreseeable emergencies,” she says. “We all have a stake in these issues.”
For veteran actor Robert Pine (“CHiPS”), the series was a rare opportunity to share an important message within a great dramatization of a story. “You don’t often get scripts like this and it’s such a pleasure work with these people that are perfectly cast and written by John Ridley and Carlton Cuse,” says Pine.
Given the heavy nature of the material, many of the cast found the shoot to be emotionally taxing. Unlike his cast mates, Pine was in good spirits each day. “I enjoyed every time I worked, I couldn’t wait to go and play with these people,” says Pine. “You could question anything at any time, so rarely does it come together so neatly… Apple provided everything we needed to make this thing look great.”
Star Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman), son of Robert Pine, was happily in attendance to support his father’s latest endeavor.
For Emmy Award winner Cherry Jones, she credits the start of shooting this series with a big personal milestone. “I managed to stop smoking on May second, the day I arrived in Toronto to work on this,” Jones shares. “It’s one of the miracles of this job, I quit smoking after forty-seven years.”
Jones knows that the series tackles difficult subject matter amid the tragedy following Katrina, but the series shines a light on topics of social injustice, climate change, and the flaws in the American healthcare system. “Our healthcare workers are now our frontline soldiers, but they don’t have the budget the pentagon has,” Jones says.
“My hometown has a small wonderful hospital that services four counties. Pre-pandemic they had a staff of 800 and now it’s under 300,” Jones states. “People don’t want to go into healthcare anymore, and who can blame them? We have to get serious about climate change and supporting our healthcare providers.”
Ahead of the premiere screening, Case took to the podium to thank the team at Apple TV+ and all the producers, crew, and cast for their indelible mark on the powerful series. “5 Day at Memorial” hails from ABC Signature, a part of Disney Television Studios and premieres globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, August 12th.
Additional Cast Interviews from the Carpet: