Thursday, December 22, 2011 New Year, New Reality, Selling Recovery TV

New Year, New Realities: Selling Recovery TV

by Alison Hill, 7 hours ago

Subscribe to Marketing: Entertainment
As the New Year approaches, many of us are thinking about how to lead cleaner, healthier lives. Some of us may even take that thought right onto reality television.
Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in reality-TV programming dedicated to issues of substance abuse, addiction, and recovery. These include the long-standing “Intervention” (A&E), launching season 12 on Jan. 2; “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” (VH1), which just ended its fifth season; and the newbie on the block, “DUI,” which debuted Dec. 1 on TLC. This may sound like a lot of sensationalism—until you realize that there are more than 22 million Americans dealing with the disease of addiction to alcohol and other substances, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
So how do you market shows like this? Carefully. I interviewed marketing, publicity and production executives involved in these shows, and came up with “12 Steps to a Successful Recovery TV Marketing Campaign.”
1. Know your show. Yes, the shows are entertainment, first; yes, they’re reality-based. But they’re also cautionary tales. “It’s dangerous content,” says Dan Partland, executive producer of “Intervention.”  “We knew the show’s standards had to be very high and we had to be beyond reproach if we were to tell a meaningful story.”
2. Know your responsibility. The executives are aware that they’re helping create awareness of a topic rife with stigma and shame. “‘Celebrity Rehab” gets people talking about addiction and sheds light on what rehab is all about,” says Valerie Allen, Dr. Drew’s personal publicist.
3. Know your audience. And who is that exactly? Everyone I talked to said that they were appealing to a “mainstream” audience. “DUI” executive producer Jim Kowats says simply, “Americans like to watch failure and redemption.” But given the statistic above, mainstream now includes plenty of people touched by addiction—including the family and friends of people struggling with the disease.
4. Start small and slow. “Back in 2005, when we first put Intervention on the air, it was kind of a radical idea for a show,” says Guy Slattery, SVP of marketing for A&E. “It was the first show of its kind so we weren’t really sure what the response would be,” adds Partland. Given its sensitive nature, they started with a soft launch and a word-of-mouth campaign to gauge audience reaction before investing in more costly traditional marketing campaigns.
5. Go organic. A show as “radical” as “Intervention” needs time to find its audience. Fortunately for A&E, recovery communities embraced the show and it grew from there—with a mainstream audience growing alongside. With “Celebrity Rehab,” “There were some critics who felt the show went too far and others who thought it didn't go far enough,” says Allen. Ultimately, the show succeeded on its own terms.
6. Go raw with promos. Every network kicks off a new series with on-air promos. What’s different with each of these shows is the creative: seemingly raw footage of the participants—no dramatic music or voice-of-doom narration.  “It’s not about showing these people as bad so you’ll watch the episode.  The promos are treated with integrity in the same way the shows are,” says Partland. Before the launch of “DUI,” TLC released sneak-peek footage to the press—no sensationalism, just footage.
7. Listen to viewer feedback.  “Since day one, we’ve received an overwhelming response from families who say the show has changed their lives by offering hope, inspiration and solutions,” says Slattery.  “We’ve also learned from them that addiction doesn’t live in a vacuum—we need to address the whole family dynamic both in the show and in our marketing approach.”
8. Emphasize your credentials. Airing rehab sessions with troubled celebrities would have a major eye-rolling factor if it weren’t for the credibility of Drew Pinsky, who figures prominently in ads and PR campaigns. Pinsky, an M.D. with board certifications in internal and addiction medicine, has worked with addicts for nearly 30 years. “He was already a well-respected expert in the field and beloved by the addiction community,” says Allen.
9. Expand the brand. Not with sweatshirts or bobble-heads, but with efforts that befit the subject. Thanks to the positive response of the recovery community to “Intervention,” A&E launched The Recovery Project “to generate awareness that addiction is a treatable disease and recovery is possible.” With a big Facebook presence and national outreach, The Recovery Project hosts town hall meetings and Recovery Month events, and creates partnerships with nonprofits like Partnership for a Drug Free America.
10. Let your people speak. “‘Intervention” participants become ambassadors for the show and for recovery,” says Partland. A meth addict from Minnesota named Sara went on to work in her local police department, speaks to teens about the dangers of substance abuse, and appeared on “Oprah.” “People like Tom Sizemore, Mackenzie Phillips, Steven Adler and others serve as an inspiration and remove the stigma for others to seek treatment,” adds Allen.
11. Win an Emmy. In 2009, A&E sent a screener to Television Academy voters in an effort to get them to watch “Intervention.” They did. And the show won the Emmy for “Outstanding Reality Series.”
12. Look for the next big thing. Is the market saturated with recovery programming? Not necessarily. A colleague of mine, Jennifer Musselman, a former PR executive for Nickelodeon, is now a psychotherapist treating individuals and families dealing with substance abuse. She suggests that, unfortunately, there’s still plenty of material in this arena. “Right now, the untapped story is adolescent substance abuse, which the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University calls ‘the No. 1 public health problem in the United States,’” says Musselman.
“Ironically, we haven’t seen the reality of what’s happening with adolescent substance dependence reflected in reality television. Reality TV done responsibly may not resolve it, but it could be an important prevention tool. If tweens and teens see its devastating consequences and parents become better informed, we just might start attacking the problem that so many families are affected by today.” Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 6, 2011


All-new Episodes of PIT BOSS and MY CAT FROM HELL Premiere Saturday, Jan. 7th

(New York, NY) – Get a double dose of mischievous pets with back-to-back new episodes of MY CAT FROM HELL and PIT BOSS on Saturday, January 7 on Animal Planet. MY CAT
FROM HELL premieres at 8 PM (ET/PT) and PIT BOSS at 9 PM (ET/PT) with all-new
episodes. Be it cats or dogs (or Shorty) causing a ruckus, viewers can see it all Saturday nights on Animal Planet!

MY CAT FROM HELL – New Episodes Beginning Saturday, January 7 at 8 PM ET/PT
Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy tackles the most catastrophic cat cases he’s ever encountered in sixall-new, one-hour episodes of MY CAT FROM HELL. Armed with 15 years of experience, a proven training program and his signature guitar case filled with cat toys, Galaxy is on a mission to help cat owners find the source of conflict with their furry friends. In this season, Jackson swoops in to solve a gamut of feline-related issues and repair the relationships they’re ruining, including the hair-raising case of a cat terrorizing its owner’s Pilates business by attacking her clients. Whether it’s the cat or the owners behaving badly, leave it to Galaxy to save the day!

PIT BOSS – New Episodes Beginning Saturday, January 7 at 9pm ET/PT
In six all-new episodes of PIT BOSS, viewers catch up with Shorty Rossi, his pit bulls and his team of little people as excitement continues to unfold in Hollywood. Shorty’s life revolves around fighting for the “underdog” – he rescues pit bulls with Shorty’s Rescue and runs Shortywood, Inc., a talent management company for little people like him. After Shorty’s employees, Ronald and Sebastian, get a taste of the limelight from shooting a movie (“Snow White”) with Julia Roberts, drama ensues when they question if they’ll return to Shorty’s Rescue. With so many pit bulls in need, will Shorty and Ashley be able to handle the workload without the guys?

MY CAT FROM HELL is produced for Animal Planet by 3 Ball Productions/Eyeworks USA.
Melinda Toporoff is the executive producer for Animal Planet. JD Roth, Todd A. Nelson and Adam Kaloustian are executive producers for 3 Ball.

Animal Planet Media (APM), a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the
world's only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal
kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners
access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high quality entertainment, information and enrichment. APM consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 96 million homes in the US; online assets, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; the 24/7 broadband channel, Animal Planet Beyond;, the #1 pet-related Web property globally that facilitates pet adoption; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Season 4 Revisited Airs Sunday at 9 pm

One-Hour Specials Revisit Patients from the First Four Seasons of
“Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”
“Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Revisited” Premieres
Sunday at 10pm*

LOS ANGELES, CA – November 8, 2011 – For the almost five years, the genre-defining reality seriesCelebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew has enlightened viewers about the painful and trying path to recovery for people with alcohol and drug addictions.  Anyone familiar with the treatment process for addiction knows that recovery is a lifelong process and some succeed where others fail.  Life outside the protective environment of rehab is rough as patients can fall into old routines and potential relapse.  Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Revisited is a series of four, “where are they now” specials with Dr. Drew and his head councilor Bob Forrest visiting patients from the first four seasons of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”  Featuring new interviews and home visits with Andy Dick,Rodney KingSeth BinzerTom SizemoreRachel Uchitel, Leif Garrett, Janice Dickinson and many more of the most infamous ‘celebrity rehabbers’ to date, these specials will offer a frank look at life months and, in some cases years, after rehab.  While many participants on the series have been successful with recovery, viewers will see that in some instances, not even Dr. Drew’s patients are immune to the perils of relapse.  “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Revisited” premieres Wednesday, November 30th at 10pm*.
Specials are each week at 9pm*  - featured patients as follows:

Airing this Sunday: 

   “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Season 4 Revisited” –
(Features Rachel UchitelLeif GarrettFrankie Lons and Janice Dickinson)
·         “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Season 1 Revisited”
(Features Seth BinzerMarey CareyJessica Sierra and Jaimee Foxworth)
·         “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Season 2 Revisited” –
(Features Rodney KingAmber SmithAndy Dick and Nikki Mckibbin)
·         “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Season 3 Revisited” –
(Features Heidi FleissJoey KovarKari Ann Peniche and Tom Sizemore)
Dr. Drew is the host of the nationally syndicated late night radio show Loveline as well as a respected practicing MD, board certified in internal and addiction medicine, who is staff at Huntington Hospital and assistant clinical professor of KECK USC School of Medicine.  Additionally, he is hosting a new primetime show on HLN called "Dr. Drew" and is hosting a daytime talk show "Dr. Drew's Lifechangers" on the CW.  He is the author of the New York Times best seller The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America (Harper Collins) and Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Together Again (Harper-Collins.) Dr. Drew co-authored the first academic study on celebrities and narcissism that was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Elsevier) in September 2006, and is the first systematic, empirical scholarly study of celebrity personality.  Dr. Drew hosted VH1’s “Sober House” and “Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew” and can be seen on MTV’s “Teen Mom” and “16 & Pregnant.”  
"Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Revisited" is produced by Irwin Entertainment.  Executive producing for Irwin Entertainment are John Irwin, Damian Sullivan, Joel Rodgers and Rob Buchta.  Dr. Drew Pinsky and Howard Lapides also serve as executive producers.  Jill Holmes, Noah Pollack and Jeff Olde are executive producers for VH1.
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