Los Angeles Times
July 16, 2001

Group Honors Hollywood's Attention to Drug Abuse

By Greg Braxton
Times Staff Writer

Congressional and political leaders, who often have taken swipes at Hollywood in recent years for depictions of sex and violence, will see a more positive side of show business Tuesday as a nonprofit industry-based organization showcases recent depictions of substance abuse in movies and television.

The Entertainment Industries Council is hosting a premiere Tuesday for several legislators of the fifth annual Prism Awards, which honors Hollywood's contributions for the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol use and addiction in film and television. Sponsors of the awards ceremony, which was taped recently, say the number of submissions this year demonstrates that Hollywood is taking substance abuse issues seriously.

There's been a coming of age in Hollywood, said Brian Dyak, president and chief executive of the council, which was founded by the entertainment industry to provide information, awareness and understanding of major public health and social issues within Hollywood and with audiences.

Twenty years ago, we were all seeing a glamorization of drugs like in Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke,' Dyak said. Now we're seeing films like Traffic' which probably would not have been made twenty years ago. Hollywood has clearly begun to take its responsibility seriously. The creative side is seeing that the issue can make for good comedy and good drama. The reality of the damage that addiction can do, and the hope that recovery provides, opens up a number of creative possibilities.

He added, I believe there's added consciousness because so many lives have been touched by this. Dyak said submissions for award consideration were up 57% from last year.

Politicians will be able to see a tape of the ceremony Tuesday at the Hart Senate Office Building at the Central Hearing Facility in Washington, D.C. The honors will be broadcast on KTLA Channel 5 at 4pm, Aug. 19.

NBC received the Larry Stewart Leadership and Inspiration Award for being an encouraging model to the entertainment industry in the accurate depiction of addiction, award sponsors said.