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National Institute on Drug Abuse News Release NIDA Media Advisory
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Tuesday, May 5, 1998 Contact: Mona Brown, Sheryl Massaro
301-443-6245

Popular TV Shows and Movies Receive Prism Awards for Scientific Accuracy in Showing Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Abuse


Entertainment industry leaders and more than 50 entertainment programs were recognized today at the Second Annual Prism Awards ceremony in Hollywood for their outstanding efforts to accurately depict the science of drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse and addiction.

HHS Secretary, Donna E. Shalala, said, "We need to stand up and applaud when the power of television and film are used to help deliver positive health messages. The entertainment industry can help educate all Americans, and especially younger people, about the good choices they can make for their health, and the real-life consequences of bad choices."

The Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, General Barry R. McCaffrey, said, "These entertainment professionals have put forth creative endeavors that accurately depict drug abuse and addiction. They are making a difference in the public's accurate perception of drugs, and we salute their commitment."

The Prism Awards are sponsored by HHS' National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in partnership with the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In addition, the Office on Smoking and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, participated in the analysis of entries and selection of recipients dealing with tobacco.

The Prism Awards were presented in the categories of feature films, five television categories and community service activities.

"These awards recognize the vital role the entertainment industry can play in communicating the reality of drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse and addiction to the general public, particularly to children and adolescents," says NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. "Various media often get criticized for ‘glamorizing' these substances, but the Prism Awards give us an opportunity to highlight those productions that accurately portray the real-life consequences of illegal drug use and other addictions."

Particularly outstanding productions were given crystal prism statues; additional productions received special Prism Commendations or Certificates to recognize their effort. Highlights included:

  • The "No Smoking" episode of Hang Time which focused on nicotine addiction received the Prism Award for Television Children's Series Episode or Special.

  • A Party of Five trilogy following a character from the point where his loved ones start to realize he has a drinking problem, through their failed intervention, to his finally reaching out for help received the Prism Award in the Television Drama Series category.

  • "The Accident," A Moment of Truth Movie, featuring underage drinking and its tragic consequences, was given the Prism Award in the Television Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Series category.

  • "Cory Feldman: The E! True Hollywood Story" depicting the young star's addiction, career plummet, and successful recovery, received the Prism Award in the Television Reality or Talk Show Series Episode or Special category.

  • ABC was awarded a Prism in the Community Service Effort category for its March Against Drugs, a month-long comprehensive anti-drug initiative across all programming areas.

  • Gridlock'd, the PRISM Award recipient in the Feature Film category, offers a satirical look at the difficulties of entering treatment and recovery programs when a pair of heroin addicts decide to get straight.

  • The Larry Stewart Leadership and Inspiration Award, was presented to Stan Lee, chairman of Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics. He received the award in recognition of his efforts to spotlight drug abuse at a time when such issues were anathema to comic book readers. In 1971, he introduced anti-drug messages in a storyline that carried through three consecutive issues of "The Amazing Spider-Man."

  • Actress Michelle Lee also received a Stewart Award for her unwavering commitment to curb drug abuse in society. She is a founding board member of EIC and has testified before Congress on the industry's role to use its influence to steer young people away from illegal drug use.

EIC is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 by the entertainment industry to serve as a bridge between the industry and public policy makers on public health and social issues.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health issues. One of the Foundation's primary goals is to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse.

NIDA, an institute of the National Institutes of Health, supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute also carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation on policy and practice.

For more than a decade NIDA has worked closely with the EIC to inform and educate the entertainment industry about issues related to drug abuse and addiction. NIDA recently supported the EIC publication of a special edition of the Spotlight on Depiction of Health and Social Issues which serves as a resource to the entertainment community for accurately portraying drug abuse and addiction. Copies of the publication are available from the NIDA Press Office. Additional information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the Home page at http://www.nida.nih.gov/.

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