Derm by day, entertainer by night

October 25, 2010

Stay tuned. You might soon see dermatologist Terry Cronin Jr., M.D., on your television sets. The Melbourne, Fla., dermatologist is a part-time filmmaker whose latest project is a television pilot called “Adventure Chefs.” Dr. Cronin stars in and produces the competition-based reality TV cooking show.

National report - Stay tuned. You might soon see dermatologist Terry Cronin Jr., M.D., on your television sets.

The Melbourne, Fla., dermatologist is a part-time filmmaker whose latest project is a television pilot called “Adventure Chefs.” Dr. Cronin stars in and produces the competition-based reality TV cooking show.

You might also run across his new novel in bookstores: “The Skinvestigator: Tramp Stamp,” a fictitious tale about dermatologist Harry Poe, M.D., who turns detective when dragged into a murder investigation.

These are just a few of the creative projects that keep Dr. Cronin busy after practice hours. He also helped to found his hometown’s annual film festival, which is now in its 12th year.

Love of film
Dr. Cronin is a long-time filmmaker. He joined an alliance of independent filmmakers in the mid-1990s, during his dermatology residency at the University of Miami.

“Making films is a very collaborative thing, so you get in with a group of people who enjoy that,” he says. “We ended up making a horror movie and took it to a bunch of film festivals.”

“Under the Bridge” was about homeless men living under a bridge, who were being killed by trolls. Making the film, Dr. Cronin says, was a great time for him.

He completed his residency and not only began private dermatology practice in Melbourne, but also launched a community project promoting film.

“A couple of my friends and I decided that we would found a film festival in Melbourne,” he says. “So we run a film festival every year that brings independent films and independent filmmakers to Melbourne, to try and build the community spirit for making film.”

Dr. Cronin made several films after the horror movie.

A screen grab featuring the current project by dermatologist Terry Cronin, M.D., "Adventure Chefs." (Photo: Terry Cronin Jr., M.D.)

But recently, he’s turned his attention toward marketing “Adventure Chefs,” a reality TV cooking show about living off the land - in style.

“We’re in the process of developing this and … and getting it on the air, whether through cable or syndication,” Dr. Cronin says. “We [have] produced two episodes, so far.

“Basically, two contestants have to hunt for and collect food from the environment, then prepare a gourmet meal for three judges. They only have 24 hours to do it,” he says. “So it’s a timed cooking competition, where they have to get all their ingredients from the wild.”

The website www.Adventure-chefs.com features footage of the program.

Dr. Cronin, the host, describes himself as a self-proclaimed student of the unusual, who has a keen appetite for delicious food and great fun.

Behind the scenes
While he stars in the cooking show, Dr. Cronin says he does most of his work behind the camera, producing and directing. But his latest project, his novel, doesn’t involve a camera at all. And its storyline is the first of his endeavors to merge dermatology and entertainment.

“I’ve always tried to keep my entertainment life separate, but that sort of changed with this novel, ‘The Skinvestigator: Tramp Stamp,’” he says. “I wanted to write an entertaining story, and, when you talk to writers, they’ll tell you to write what you know.

“I spend all my life, time, energy and passion in dermatology, so I thought, why don’t I bring the expertise of a dermatologist into helping a criminal investigation?”

Dermatologists are the perfect detectives, Dr. Cronin says. He refers to the history of Sherlock Holmes, noting that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle patterned the Holmes character after one of his professors, a surgeon and expert diagnostician who was notably interested in dermatology.

Dr. Cronin bears a strange resemblance to his book’s main character, Harry Poe, M.D., whose front office sign reads: "The Poe Skin Cancer Center." Dr. Cronin, associate voluntary professor at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, department of dermatology and cutaneous surgery, devotes his practice to skin cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Like Dr. Cronin, Dr. Poe is a happily married family man. But, says the real dermatologist, that’s where the similarities end.

“[Dr. Poe] gets dragged into this murder investigation and finds himself in sort of an unexpected world, which involves illicit cosmetic surgery, the skin cancer epidemic and tattoos. There is an element of prostitution,” Dr. Cronin says. “My life is not as interesting as Dr. Poe’s - but then, I would rather have a simple life.”

The novel, based in Miami, is the first in the “Sunshine State Trilogy” series to be published by 3 Boys Productions (the same group that organizes the Melbourne film festival). Dr. Cronin says Barnes and Noble bookstores and Amazon.com have agreed to carry his book. He says he also has plans to make book-signing appearances in New York.

Finding the time to nurture his entertainment side while running a full-time dermatology practice isn’t easy, Dr. Cronin says.

Thankfully, he says, “I have a very understanding wife and family, and I don’t sleep as much as other people do.”