"Albert Schweitzer: The Grand Doctor," for the Hallmark Channel, will focus on the life and work of Dr. Schweitzer (1875-1965), the Alsatian humanitarian, theologist, missionary, musician, author and medical doctor who worked for decades caring for the people of West Central Africa. In 1913, Dr. Schweitzer established a hospital in Africa's Gabon, and he lived most of his life there. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, and accepted it two years later.
McCarthy is the respected actor who played the dangerously focused comic narrator, Officer Lockstock, in Broadway's Urinetown. He was most recently seen in the San Francisco test run of the new musical, The Opposite of Sex, which Fran and Barry Weissler are shepherding to a Broadway future. His Broadway credits also include Zorba, Smile and Beauty and the Beast. This summer, he'll play Ben in Barrington Stage's production of Follies, which will also feature his Opposite of Sex co-star Karen Ziemba.
"The Grand Doctor" will shoot in Strasbourg and West Africa in May, including a location shoot at the famed medical missionary's hospital in Lambéréne, Gabon.
Martin Doblmeier wrote and will direct the movie for Journey Films. No air date has been announced.
McCarthy will play Dr. Schweitzer from age 38 to 83, the actor said. The doctor won the Nobel while in his eighties, and used the money to found a leper hospital. Dr. Schweitzer was also a gifted organist and expert on Bach.
"When funds ran low, Schweitzer would book organ concerts — always Bach — throughout Europe to fund his work in Africa," McCarthy said.
The multi-disciplined Dr. Schweitzer had doctorates in classical music, philosophy, theology and medicine before the age of 30. A Lutheran minister who was also influenced by Eastern religion, Dr. Schweitzer's Nobel acceptance speech had the central theme of "Reverence for Life."
"I am so honored this project has fallen into my lap," McCarthy said. "I'm doing a lot of historic research. Good God, he's one of the great figures of the 20th century, and some people have forgotten who he was. It good to keep alive a legend; I'm proud to be doing it."