Celebrity Rehab: Helping People Help Others?

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There was a fairly standard pros-and-cons piece on Celebrity Rehab in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. Some people say it’s exploitative and doomed to failure (Dr. David Sack, the chief executive of Malibu’s Promises Treatment Center: “When you create this context of paying people to participate, it doesn’t work.”); some people say it saved their lives (Janice Dickinson: “Dr. Drew saved my life.”). Some people say it thrives on manufactured drama (Leif Garrett: “They asked to get some footage of me using, and I said, ‘I haven’t been using.’ They said, ‘We really have to get footage of you using.’ Anyway, I was easily talked into showing them.”); some people categorically disagree (VH1′s VP of communications Scott Acord: “The show’s producers would never ask anyone to use…PERIOD.”).

That kind of conflict is present even within some people, like Season 1 and 2′s Jeff Conaway, who says he played up drama and was asked to lie by producers. Most interestingly, though, is that none of that seems to matter to him as much as his continued reminders of how he’s touched other people through the show:

“I got a lot of love from people, and when people stop me on the street and say, ‘Man, your story touched me so much,’ it just makes all this pain worthwhile, you know? Because I don’t know where actors go after they die, but I know people who help other people have a nice place to go. And I would like to go there if I can.”

You can argue with the televised process for years (people have been!), but its worth in this context is undeniable. And after all, isn’t helping people what this show is all about? [Los Angeles Times]

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