The score for ABC’s effort to replace two long-running daytime dramas with weekday lifestyle programs is now 1-1: “All My Children” substitute “The Chew” is staying, but “The Revolution” — which took the “One Life to Live” slot and involved medical expert Ashton, design authority Ty Pennington, style source Tim Gunn and others – is not. Its final telecast is Friday, July 6, and Ashton is happy with the attempt even if it didn’t last too long.
“For me, the experience has been amazing,” she reflects. “I always consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to communicate through television with millions of people … and to deliver information in a way that has the potential to improve their lives. When you’re talking about medicine and health and wellness, that’s a very real possibility, and I feel we did that.”
A New Jersey-based obstetrician and gynecologist as well as an author (“The Body Scoop for Girls,” “Your Body Beautiful”), the pleasant Ashton says she’s gratified her segments have incorporated real women from the show’s audience.
“I think we were able to go into a little more depth than I was used to doing in a news format [as a former regular on CBS News programs],” Ashton says, “and we did it in a conversational way that gave people insights I think really helped them.”
By definition, “The Revolution” has been several things at once since Ashton, Pennington, Gunn, trainer Harley Pasternak and therapist Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry all have their own specialties to be serviced within a given hour.
“I would have liked to see more of a 360-degree approach to lifestyle issues, even more than we had,” Ashton says, “but that’s in my dream world. The reality of doing 37 minutes of programming in an hourlong slot is that you can’t always do those things.
“An example I think would have been interesting would have been for Tim Gunn and me to examine how women who have had mastectomies dress themselves. Not everyone has those instructions. How do they wear swimsuits? How do they wear evening dresses? How do they dress for work? I have a long list of topics I’d like to cover for television, and hopefully, I’ll get to in the future.”
“The Revolution” also has been a lesson for Ashton — a mother of two whose husband is a physician and surgeon — in juggling personal and professional commitments along with a broadcasting presence.
“It has been probably the busiest eight months of the last five years for me, because I didn’t cut back on my patient hours. I just reshuffled them, so that meant if we were taping three days a week, I was seeing patients for 25 hours over two days.
“I saw the same number of patients, if not more,” Ashton notes. “I just had to fit them in with longer hours that gave me less personal time. I was able to do it, though. I have such incredible patients, they felt they were sharing me with the rest of the country.”
Also featured this summer as an end-of-process adviser to the subjects on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,” Ashton concludes that where “The Revolution” is concerned, “I think the concept of multiple experts working to address issues is a good one, but it was a complicated show to produce. I guess that’s the best way to say it.”