For two seasons (1989-1990) on NBC, “13 East” topped the ratings for its time slot virtually every week, despite being shifted around the network schedule and with major cast changes in between seasons.
Wayne starred as hospital administrator “Wayne Frazier” in this zany sitcom opposite the late Diana Bellamy as head nurse “Maggie Poole” – and, together, their comedic chemistry was pure magic. (Enjoy the rare photos and video clips below!)
Taped before a live studio audience, the series was produced by ScoeyMitchlll, a trailblazing African-American stand-up comedian during the 1960s-1970’s who went on to blaze more trails behind the camera as a writer / producer / director.
The show was a favorite of NBC President Brandon Tartikoff but, once Tartikoff left the network, his successor Warren Littlefield unceremoniously cancelled “13 East,” despite its ratings success, replacing it with “Nurses,” a show with a very similar concept, but without the fingerprints of his predecessor.
“For two seasons we had a ball,” Wayne recalls. “The writing, characters and relationships grew and developed. By the second season, we had really “found” the show and the ratings proved it, despite possibly the worst lead-in in TV history, (quintessential dramatic movie bad-boy Robert Mitchum in a sitcom with kids!). Yes, we even overcame that but network politics did us in. So after the second season of “13 East,” the show ‘went south’ – even while regularly winning its time slot.”
That’s show biz!