HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 21, 2015 – High Point University Artist-in-Residence Joe Michaels will direct the first-ever live broadcast of a brain surgery for National Geographic Channel. The two-hour special premieres at 9 p.m. ET on Oct. 25 and will be carried in 171 countries and 45 different languages.
Michaels was tapped by Leftfield Pictures to direct “Brain Surgery Live with Mental Floss,” an up-close look at an awake deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery to be performed at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Doctors will surgically repair a brain while the patient is fully awake and able to speak.
During the broadcast, Michaels will direct the various cameras to be used in the production, including two handheld cameras as well as several robotic cameras with inputs directly in the doctors’ surgical equipment, allowing viewers to see the operation in real time. He will also cue the show’s talent, which includes Bryant Gumbel as host, neurosurgeon Dr. Rahul Jandial and neuroscientist and podcast host Cara Santa Maria.
“This broadcast is a celebration of the brain and all the new breakthroughs that modern medicine has made,” says Michaels. “Naturally, I want to illustrate this throughout the broadcast as well as bring the audience as close as possible to the actual live surgery that will be taking place throughout the show.”
Michaels joined the Qubein School of Communication faculty at HPU this year after an award-winning career of directing major television productions, including NBC’s “Today” show, the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony, the World Series, the Super Bowl, and Wimbledon, among others. He says directing this live surgery is a challenge he is honored to take.
“Throughout my career I have directed thousands of live shows, but I cannot recall one that actually focused on a life-changing operation,” he says. “The patient is the star along with the doctors that will be preforming the operation. It is very exciting television for us to produce and hopefully for the audience to witness a brain operation where the patient is awake, and we will see the results live during the broadcast.”