Thursday, December 13, 2007

Maurice Benard PSA and Interview Shoot

Here are some of the stills from last night's shoot with General Hospital's *star* Maurice Benard! He got up-close-and-personal with EIC yesterday, talking about his experience living with bipolar disorder in real life as well as onscreen.

Photo credit: Kristi Foreman

Photo credit: Kristi Foreman

Photo credit: Kristi Foreman

Check back soon on our YouTube channel for the PSA and clips from last night's shoot!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Online Madness

These days the holiday season means searching online for shopping deals, holiday ring tones, season-themed screensavers and wallpapers. Political campaigns have pounced into cyberspace with a vengeance to find voters, using YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, AOL, Yahoo, and on and on…reaching out to the keyboard ticklers.

I decided to take a look at a couple of our YouTube placements and was pleased to see that a couple hundred thousand viewers have taken a look at Stop the Madness (EIC’s anti-drug anthem), which premiered in 1985 on the late NBC Friday Night Videos, as well as our skin cancer awareness and prevention PSAs, which premiered on CBS last year. The fact that the Internet has exposed hundreds of thousands of people to both old and new public service messages is an amazing anomaly in the do-good health communications field.

The fact is, reaching out to 200 thousand people with such messages using first-class mail would cost over $80,000. Placing the spots on television has its own costs, including many people hours, and limits exposure to each 10-, 15- or 30-second PSA airing window. Simply put, the Internet is making a difference not only in how people view media, but in what is available and what people are free to view.

Regardless of one’s opinion of how well “Stop the Madness” has held up over time (I like to consider it a classic.), I would never have guessed when producing it that it would have an audience today. And yes, when you read the comments on YouTube, you will see that those in the video now raise questions: pro football’s Lyle Alzado died from suspected drug use, David Hasselhoff has had his personal confrontations with alcohol use, and Whitney Houston has battled her own alleged addictions. However, the majority of the stars who donated their time and talents for the video have managed to live scandal-free lives. One of them is even the governor of a little state called California!

And you know what? Regardless of past, present or future personal problems, all of the celebrities featured made a commitment: they donated their time and talent to do something to tell young people to stay clear of drugs, that—as the lyrics state—“drugs are causing pain, so Stop the Madness, Stop the Madness now!” In its heyday, Stop the Madness was played in heavy rotation on TV and a dance remix was a hit in clubs throughout the country. It is a great surprise that STM has been re-discovered as modest as it may be. Though styles changes, the message of the song is still the message!

I am still grateful for the contributions of all of the stars involved in Stop the Madness, and I would personally welcome back any of these great people, including The Hoff and Whitney, to work with us as we move into and beyond our 25th anniversary this year. Addiction is a disease, not a scarlet letter, and recovery is a life-long process.

As we enter the holiday season, consider taking your own inventory…if you haven’t given of your time and talent, or made donations to help others, what you are waiting for? Your support of EIC now will last well into the future. If you are sharing yourself in the best interest of others, you are in good company and thank you.

My offering to you is a look back in time at EIC’s Stop the Madness video. Feel free to have a chuckle at the dated hairstyles and clothes, or even the direction—hey, it was made before MTV perfected the art of slick music videos!—but then take a look at the lyrics. Unfortunately, cocaine has made a resurgence and meth and other drugs have wreaked devastation on people throughout the country. We still need to stop the madness, and we need your support to do it.



I believe that together you and I can save a life today.

We can stop a killer from reaching into minds and throwing lives away.
Drugs are causing pain and everyone's a loser in this deadly game that's played.
It's insanity. We know that dope is slavery.

And you know we've got to be free ... come on now, we've got to stop the madness.

Stop the madness now.

Stop the madness.
Stop the madness now.

Tell me what you're doing trying to get some pleasure from an empty high.
Only fools will tell you using drugs is really a victimless crime.
There are casualties standing at the graves of children.
Feel the tears they cry.

Take a stand today; maybe it's your life you'll save.
You know there's got to be another way; everybody let me hear you say ...

Stop the madness.
Stop the madness now.
Stop the madness.
Stop the madness now.

Brother, we heard your cry for some assistance.
Drugs are making your mind a man-made hell.

You thought that using dope would be a party.
Now you're a prisoner in a cell crying to be free.

You wanna stop the madness.
Stop the madness now.
Stop the madness.
Stop the madness now.

Friday, November 9, 2007

“Content is King”: The Power of Words on Strike

"CONTENT IS KING" ...this phrase became the entertainment industry mantra in the 1980s and ‘90s as broadcast and cable television began to offer the vast selection of programming provided to audiences today.

And who has been responsible for the glorious explosion of new shows, and a multitude of productions? The writers AND the “suits,” working together to build creative business models that fostered the most dynamic entertainment industry in the world.

Together, the creative-minded and business-minded people in our industry have generated entertainment that has been beamed to space and back, and enjoyed by millions and millions of viewers around the world. Our industry is a unique collaborative effort, sustaining jobs for artisans, crafts people, technicians, business professionals who expertly (each in their own way) wrap their skills, education and talents around the written words of writers...the same words that are judged and embraced by audiences around the world.Throughout our history, EIC has been graced with contributions from hundreds of talented people from all facets of the entertainment industry, including many talented writers.

It is not EIC's place in our industry to take sides on the strike, as we work with content that is produced by the collaboration of writers, directors, producers, executives, and everyone else that makes great entertainment happen.

It is, however, our place to encourage the reconciliation needed to continue to move our industry into the future.

It is our place to point out the fact that leaders on both sides of the strike can and will foster an equitable resolution.

And it is our place to maintain optimism that this fair resolution will be reached soon.

It is also our place to support everyone whose professional and personal lives are affected by the writers’ strike—which is to say, just about everyone in the business, and our loyal audiences whose lives are moved and sometimes improved by the content we create.

Words are waiting to be written, stories to be told. Deals are waiting to be made. Behind the stories and the deals are people who are waiting to get back to work.

That said, I have hope that this experience be a short passage to a stronger, more united and even more successful entertainment industry in which content remains king, and the people who create content can get back to the art of making a difference.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Special thanks to all the talented people who helped make possible the production of the 11th Annual PRISM Awards that just aired on FX Network. PRISM is just about a year long process. It is created first from the commitment to others and dedication of the EIC staff, Board of Directors, a number of Trustees, members of the EIC Creative Professional Network and a host of volunteers from the creative community.

Uniquely, the heart of the PRISM Awards emanates from people within and outside of the entertainment industry who recognize the importance and relevance of the entertainment industry to help others by using its power and influence to reach audiences with health and life style information that can literally help save a life. PRISM is a culmination of creative professionals’ awareness and attention to empowering the public with accurate information in an entertaining way. The PRISM Awards showcases some of the best work of actors, writers, producers, directors and other creative professionals that makes a difference in the lives of audiences.

As we enter the PRISM season of Call for Entries, I encourage those in our industry who would like to be a part of something that is special and unique to get involved with EIC. Your skills and talent will be well received by all involved with the PRISM Awards. New thinking is welcome as is pro bono production services. There is plenty of opportunity to be involved in Call for Entries, Judging, the annual Awards Event, Capitol Hill Showcase, marketing, promotion, public relations and the production.

So please don't hesitate to contact EIC to wear your heart on your sleeve a little a part of bringing the power and influence of the entertainment industry to bear on health and social issues. Help create the "art of making a difference."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Snapshots: PRISM Awards Showcase (10/2/07)

*click on pictures for larger image*
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Representative Diane Watson (D-CA)

Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) & Tim Murphy (R-PA)

*click on pictures for larger image*

The lovely Judith Light...striking a pose.

EIC's Management Team with Mark Weber, the Director of Communications for SAMHSA.
Matthew Margo, Senior VP of Program Practices, CBS Television Network

Marcellus Alexander (President, NAB Education Foundation); Kathryn Power (Director, Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA); Katherine Fugate (Creator and Executive Producer, Army Wives); Nick Grad (Executive VP, Programming, FX Networks); Dr. Gary Sachs (Founder & Director, MGH Bipolar Clinic & Research Program), Judith Light (Actor, Ugly Betty); Brian Dyak (President & CEO, EIC)

Judith Light, Katherine Fugate and Morgan Brittany

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Set your DVRs for Sunday, November 4th!

Date: Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007
Time: 3:00 PM and 1:00 AM
Channel: FX Networks
Descriptor: 11th Annual PRISM Awards
(left to right: Brian Dyak, Melissa Rivers, John Salley, Dr. Drew Pinsky)

Get ready for some EDUTAINMENT and tune into FX on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH for the 11th ANNUAL PRISM AWARDS at 3 PM and 1 AM!

Out for the day? Watching football? Go ahead and set the DVR!

Hosted by Melissa Rivers, John Salley, and Dr. Drew, the show will highlight drama and comedy through entertaining stories from some of your favorite TV shows and movies! You will also hear from talented actors about preparing for their roles.

PRISM is not simply an awards show; in fact, it is a magazine-format show that gives you insight into the storytelling that weaves its way through the complexities of substance abuse and mental health concerns…topics we generally don’t hang out and talk about until it’s absolutely necessary or sometimes too late.

So why wait? Get a heads up on some information that could prompt the kind of dialogue with a friend or loved one that just might nip unwanted circumstances in the bud! If you record it, PRISM just might be your entry point for a frank discussion about substance abuse and/or mental health.

If for some reason you don’t catch the show, get a hold of EIC, and we will send you a DVD with some discussion questions…our way of giving you an opportunity to combat stigma and do something that just might make a difference.

All of us at EIC are proud that PRISM is the only TV special that has nationally aired for 8 consecutive years that spotlights these important health issues…in the history of television! We salute all those at FX, Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox, NBC, Universal, USA, CBS, Paramount, Showtime, MTV Networks, ABC, Disney, E!, CW, A&E, Lifetime, Warner Bros., Sony, Turner Networks, MGM, Discovery, HBO, and the many in the creative community whose work is on display. Enjoy the show!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Whew, summer is gone…

Shows and nets are gearing up for the fall launch, studios are positioning feature promotions through the upcoming holidays, EMMYS have come and gone, PRISM Awards entries are rolling in, and I am reflecting on what fall means.

Twenty-five years ago I came up with the concept/idea to form EIC with great supportive input from EIC Executive Vice President Marie Gallo Dyak. Co-Founder Ralph Andrews, a controversial but loveable, energetic top game show producer, brought entertainment expertise and insider knowledge. The late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jack Anderson, a man of controversy in his own right, but an extremely optimistic and energizing personality, brought political connections. We seemed like an odd lot to tackle the notion that the power and influence of the entertainment industry could be brought to bear on health and social issues…but Jack, Ralph, and I incorporated EIC to do just that.

We each had different but complementary strategies…the main question was, 'what do we do first?' We quickly hit a crossroad of organizational development and three key directions emerged.

  1. Build a bridge between Hollywood and public policy makers and federal officials in Washington;
  2. Provide resource information on various depictions to the creative community (a concept supported by the late writer/director Larry Stewart), and;
  3. Maximize the reach of the industries' “celebrity power” to drive public awareness about issues… founding directors Bill Utz, Michele Lee, Tim Conway, David Goldsmith, Jay Rodriguez, Herman Rush, Gerald McRaney, Tim Reid, Nancy Dockry, and RenĂ©e Valente each supported some or part of each strategy by attending events around the country and even abroad, all in the name of the EIC.
So what did we do? We took on as much as we could possibly handle to create quality work that spotlighted each strategy…we targeted resources, and each director (in their own way) put forth their best skills to build a new organization.

Our greatest concern was to reverse a trend that exploited drug use by making it glamorous, comedic, sexy, macho and attractive to audiences. Ralph had the notion that positive reinforcement could be a dynamic strategy to see the industry come on board to support the EIC mission. Ralph was vested in the potential of positive recognition and getting the White House involved, so we created the Nancy Reagan Drug Abuse Prevention Award which has morphed into today’s EIC-produced PRISM Awards television special on FX Network. With the Reagans in the White House we had access to both the political and entertainment world; however, we were ever conscious to be non-partisan in the best interest of the public and in the best interest of not polarizing the issues we addressed...or our mission “to bring the power and influence of the entertainment industry to bear on health and social issues”. We all set high standards for ourselves and soon the quality of our work spoke for itself. Early on we were recognized with a Senate Resolution of support, and the President’s Private Public Sector Initiative Award, a beautiful Rose Garden Ceremony.

Ralph was the avid promoter of recognition and awards (the 4th strategy), and over time has proven to be 100% accurate that positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to engage the creative community to understand the importance of the issues. EIC’s strategic formula to laud entertainment creators for a job well done has taken hold. Our formula embraces basic principles that speak to the value of being non-judgmental, supporting volunteerism, providing accurate information and resources to the creative community and not abusing or misusing the power of celebrity.

EIC has continued to do “good work” in the public interest as an organization of the industry, by the industry and for the industry because the original organizers respectfully contended with unique and complimentary views that formed the fundamental ingredients needed to build a strong and sound foundation for organizational development. The passion and will of each of the staff and volunteers has always been a spirit that is strong and vibrant. As we continue to go forward…I find clarity in the mission because of the contributions of all of the staff over the years and especially the founding Board Directors of the Entertainment Industries Council. Thank you.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Look Back at the PRISM Awards

Take a look at what some celebrities had to say about EIC and the PRISM Awards!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Kudos to Lifetime

Recently I had the opportunity to congratulate Andrea Wong, President and CEO LIFETIME Television on her new position at a reception in Washington DC. Significant leadership from a host of women’s organizations filled the room. I found myself observing (while having some tasty shrimp and great crepes) and listening (in some instances eavesdropping) and learning about important women’s concerns. Hillary Clinton’s run for president and the need for special attention to specific women’s health concerns seemed to be hot topics of discussion.

As I was listening I flashed on a movie I recently watched about women’s suffrage, IRON JAWED ANGELS, starring Hillary Swank, and could only wonder how long will it take—more importantly why it takes so long—for social change to CHANGE from philosophy to action? To take root is one thing; for change to grow, blossom and become assimilated into society is another.

The recent political posturing of whether Hillary Clinton or John Edwards could better serve women further seasoned my thinking.

BOTTOM LINE: Who is better is not the issue at hand. The issue is about how men and women work together to support each other, for the common good and most importantly future generations. I applaud the commitment of Lifetime’s leadership to promote targeted programming for women and especially their most recent campaign to encourage women to vote.

Given the hum I heard about women’s health concerns, EIC will put into our 2008 program plan a PICTURE THIS forum to further explore development of depiction suggestions for the creative community. This meeting with bring together key leaders in the field of women’s health to deliberate on what issues of special interest to women are the most pressing to be communicated to the public through entertainment.

Such a meeting of women leaders convened by EIC, an entertainment industry entity, is imperative at a time when stories of Hollywood starlets behaving recklessly and taking chances with their health and safety have become ubiquitous, possibly skewing the perceptions of girls and young women during their formative years.

Who knows, down the road the bold headlines associated with Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan may be positive ones. One day, these women may join the many female leaders who work tirelessly to accelerate the pace of social change.


*By the way…
When EIC was founded (1983), one of my founding principles was to establish an organization within the entertainment industry that could help to curb sexism, racism, ageism and encourage the notion that one should have control over his or her own life and not be weighed down by the “-isms.”

Yet as I worked to put the EIC Board of Directors and Trustees in place, not one woman was in the very top position. Among rising women executives at the time—Sherry Lansing, Renee Valente, Suzanne DePasse, Nancy Dockry among them—EIC had their support and, in fact, enlisted their efforts to guide us toward the future. However, top, leadership was in the hands of about a dozen male studio and network executives at the time.

I am delighted that Andrea Wong is one of many top female executives leading our industry today, and look forward to her numerous contributions of good ideas and great programming.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quality Control vs. Creative Freedom: Who Gets To Judge?

Quality: A general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

Check it out! A new Wall Street Journal article, “Drinks, Drugs, Dysfunction Star on Summer Cable TV” by John Jurgensen (July 20, 2007), analyzes creative depictions of substance abuse on cable shows. I am extremely pleased to see the PRISM Awards recognized in the article along with the concept of accurate depiction integrated into story telling.

EIC has pioneered depiction efforts working with the creative community for close to 25 years, initially addressing the perceived glamorization of drug use in comedy and drama, exploitation of drug use without the reality of negative consequences, or the portrayal as funny, sexy, or macho during the 1970s and ’80s.

As we were founded and are governed by entertainment professionals, EIC places a priority on creative freedom; we believe that writers and other creative people should be allowed to do what they feel necessary to tell a story the way it needs to be told. This is called artistry. After a couple of years of taking a strong “Just Say No” approach, EIC shifted focus from glamorization to accuracy. The response to this new attitude—challenging creators to be as accurate as possible while maintaining creative integrity and engaging audiences, rather than pointing the finger at “glamorous” portrayals and watering down everything for a general audience—was astounding. Our peers in the industry took on the challenge and asked for more.

This led to our publishing of a comprehensive creative community depiction encyclopedia, EIC's Spotlight on Depiction of Health and Social Issues: Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Use and Addiction, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). This resource set the standard for accurate depiction providing show researchers and writers with quick reference information about substance abuse all vetted by NIDA. In fact, we are updating the book right now.

Given today’s availability of resource information on myriad health and social issues for the creative community, I feel now is the time to issue a reality check for people who are never satisfied with what the entertainment industry produces. This constant complaining comes down to one common denominator: QUALITY. Quality is in the eye of the beholder.

EIC focuses on accurate, science-based information because by definition, the quality of anything is entirely subjective. What one person thinks is ‘off the mark’ may be ‘on the mark’ for others. You may find a particular depiction or character’s dialogue not entertaining and offensive, and I may find it a reflection of life as I know it or fantasy—escapism storytelling.

The bottom line: WHO IS TO JUDGE?


Friday, July 6, 2007

Welcome to the EIC blog!

As President and CEO of EIC, I look forward to esoteric exchanges with those of you who get the fact that the entertainment industry takes the hit for a multitude of faltering institutions in society…the convenient fall guy…the easy out…the victim…barraged with blame for the inadequacies or failings of others. In fact, there are so many wonderful contributions made by our industry daily that contribute to a healthier, more informed, and better-educated society…all while entertaining people in the process.

Yet, news of these contributions of “good” doesn’t play in the news…for as sexy as entertainment industry seems, it’s not sexy enough for its good works to get coverage.

For as violent as we may be accused of being, there doesn’t seem to be enough action in our positive messaging to catch a headline.

And for as indecent as our industry can be accused of being, the reality is that the vast majority of entertainment professionals are decent people with good intentions who struggle to be creative and produce “good” works in the face of criticism from the outside.

Has my message struck a chord with you? Whether you agree or disagree, I want to know what YOU think. Your comments will help shape this discourse.

For now, my message is simple: I defend the actions and the rights of the entertainment industry’s creative community, and I encourage them to continue their good works, and challenge others to start paying attention to not just the bad and the ugly, but the good.

And I haven’t said anything about freedom yet. Write ON!