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Awards Honor Accurate Entertainment Media Portrayals of Drug Abuse and Addiction

August 01, 2001
Robert Mathias
Photo of the 5th annual PRISM Awards CeremonyEntertainment Industries Council president Brian Dyak (left) is joined by co-hosts Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis, NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Vice President Nancy Kauffman at the 5th annual PRISM Awards ceremony.

The accurate portrayal of drug abuse and addiction in film and television productions played the leading role at the 2001 PRISM Awards ceremonies held in Los Angeles in April before an audience of 500 entertainment industry leaders. The awards honor the efforts of the entertainment industry in achieving scientific accuracy in the portrayal of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, abuse, and addiction. NIDA and its partners-the Entertainment Industries Council and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsor and present the awards.

Now in its 5th year, this year's PRISM Awards featured 56 nominees in 15 categories who were honored for "getting it right" when they depicted drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, abuse, and addiction in films and television programs that included drama and comedy series, talk shows, and daytime dramas. The nominees were selected from total of 248 submissions, a 57 percent increase over last year's submissions and nearly five times the number of entries submitted for the first PRISM awards in 1997.

"Through the PRISM awards, we applaud the entertainment industry for its recognition of the power of scientific fact as the basis for film and music that accurately convey the reality of drug abuse and addiction in the lives of everyday people," said NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. "These awards honor artistic efforts that both entertain and inform by authentically depicting the very real dangers of drug abuse and addiction."

Dr. Leshner also noted that the entertainment industry is the "largest educational system in the country" and is phenomenally effective in shaping attitudes and perceptions. When industry professionals seek to portray aspects of drug addiction such as overdose, withdrawal, and relapse, NIDA helps them by arranging for scientists to provide detailed research-based information. The PRISM Awards recognize the creative achievements of artists who present that information in true-to-life situations that show the impact of drug addiction on people's lives.

This year's PRISM Award for Theatrical Feature Film went to "Traffic," for its gritty portrayal of the world of drug trafficking. Other PRISM Award winners illustrated the day-to-day lives of characters dealing with drug addiction and its consequences. A series of "Sex and the City" episodes depicting the struggle of one of the characters to quit smoking won this year's award for TV Comedy Series Story Line. The TV Daytime Drama Series Award went to "Days of Our Lives" for a story line that portrayed the consequences of fetal alcohol syndrome. The hospital drama "ER" won the TV Drama Series Award for its story line about a physician's addiction to painkillers.

In the children's TV categories, "In a Heart Beat," won the Live Action Series Episode Award and "The Powerpuff Girls" won the Animated Series Episode Award. The X-Men won the Comic Book Issue or Continuing Storyline Award.

The PRISM Awards ceremony will be nationally syndicated by Tribune Entertainment Company. The program will air between August 6 and 19 on Tribune Broadcasting's 22 TV stations, which reach more than 75 percent of U.S. television households.

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