Meet Alex O'Loughlin of 'Three Rivers'

Today's cuppa: Stash's Christmas Morning tea (because it's finally cool here in Los Angeles! Happy as Christmas Morning)

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Click here for an edited version of the feature story I wrote on the new CBS medical drama "Three Rivers," premiering tonight.

First of all, since every syndicated writer is at the mercy of the space considerations of newspapers -- yes, "Jericho" fans, I had that credit, and "Providence," after Carol Barbee's name in the unedited original -- here's the part of the story that was edited out of this particular publication (larger or shorter versions of the story may appear in your local newspaper):

...In creating the show, Barbee drew inspiration from reality, in particular from a surgeon who works at the famed Cleveland Clinic. A native of Puerto Rico, Gonzalo "Gonzo" Gonzalez-Stawinski , MD , includes adult cardiac surgery and heart transplantation among his specialties.

Explains Barbee, "Gonzo says, 'My day job is, I'm a heart surgeon. My night job is, I'm a transplant surgeon.'"

"The guy's amazing," O'Loughlin says. "He prefers for me not to drop the Gonzalo bomb. He's Gonzo. But Dr. Gonzo is our man.

"He's influential to me. To younger people in my life who want to be doing what I'm doing, I'm sure I'm a representation of success and positive things, and that's lovely. Gonzo's like that for me.

"I don't actually think what I do is that important. It's great; it's fine; it's an interesting exploration of human life. It's important that we entertain, but what he does, he saves lives. He's dedicated to the pursuit of that.

"He's actively trying to find new and better ways for mankind, for doing things in medicine. It's extraordinary. He's a rock star."

"Alex and I are forever bonded," says Barbee, "over our love for Gonzo. What's so funny, he and Alex don't look a thing alike. When I first met Alex, I thought, 'Well, he doesn't look anything like Gonzo,' and now they do. In my head, they do.

"Honestly, I think they started looking alike, and Alex apes him so well. His hands, the way he does surgery - Alex is a great mimic. He really is so focused on getting it right and being Gonzo."

One thing, though, seems to be dogging O'Loughlin. In his last show, "Moonlight," he played a vampire; in this show, he's a transplant surgeon. The one thing both shows have in common is fake blood and lots of it.

"I won't do a show unless there are buckets and buckets and buckets of blood," O'Loughlin quips.

Told there's a bucket waiting just outside the soundstage door, he laughs and says, "I having one sitting by every door in case I need to tip it all over me."

In addition: here's an important PSA from CBS:

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CBS has partnered with Donate Life America, raising awareness of how and why to become an organ donor in conjunction with the Network's new medical series, THREE RIVERS. Among the joint marketing initiatives are the mass distribution of Donate Life awareness bracelets, a "CBS Cares" PSA, digital ads in Department of Motor Vehicles throughout the country, and social networking outreach.

More with star Alex O'Loughlin later ... eager to hear what you think of the show.