Dennis Quaid at National Press Club, fighting medical errors, avoiding the John Edwards question
There's plenty about Dennis Quaid -- boyish good looks, playful grin, awesome hair -- that reminds people of John Edwards, which is why the actor is the blogosphere's odds-on favorite to play the disgraced politician in the inevitable biopic.
But the Quaid is steering clear -- for the moment. When asked whether he was interested in the part at Monday's National Press Club appearance, he cracked up, slammed down a gavel and declared, "That concludes today's luncheon. ... Call my agent."
All in fun, of course. Quaid, who turned 56 last Friday (the lunch crowd sang a ragged "Happy Birthday") has the natural charm and charisma to play (or be) a politician. Ten years ago, he spent a weekend in the White House with Bill Clinton -- "smartest man I ever met, by the way" -- and next month he will appear as the 42nd president in HBO's "The Special Relationship," with Michael Sheen as Tony Blair.
But Quaid came to D.C. in his real-life role as a dad: Two years ago, his 10-day-old twins almost died when they accidentally received a massive overdose of Heparin, a blood-thinning drug. "Little did I know how dangerous any hospital can be," he told the audience. " ... I'm an actor: If I make a mistake, I have Take.2 -- or 3, or 4 or 37 -- and believe me, I've been there. But if a caregiver makes a mistake, it can mean someone's life."
The babies recovered, and Quaid and his wife have become passionate advocates for better medical safety procedures (bedside bar codes, etc.) to prevent health-care errors. He's introducing a documentary on the subject next week, but said he has no plans to dramatize his family's personal ordeal. "It's really difficult to relive that. I don't think I'd want to spend two to three months making a movie about it. I think the story is already powerful enough."
Besides, he said, the twins have revolutionized how hospitals address patient safety: "They should be proud of themselves for what they've done at such an early age. They really have changed the world already."
The Reliable Source
April 13, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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