A&E Rallies With Some 5,000 ‘Delegates’ At Brooklyn Recovery Event


National Recovery Month ended with September, but A&E Network and some of its cable affiliates, including Comcast, are keeping the efforts going into October and beyond.

The network, inspired by the response from viewers and families to its Emmy-nominated documentary series Intervention, helped raise awareness that addiction is a treatable disease with "The Recovery Project," with a public celebration in Brooklyn.

Held on Sept. 27, "The Recovery Rally," organized in partnership with National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., attracted some 5,000 addicts in recovery from 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as their families, friends and advocates.

Comcast conducted video interviews with a number of these "delegates" and plans to produce local segments for its video-on-demand platform.

The Recovery Rally started at the borough’s Cadman Plaza Park, where participants arrivid by bus, train, subway and river ferries coming from Liberty State Park in New Jersey. The pre-walk entertainment was provided by sober youth band Crazy James, plus warm-ups and rally greetings to state delegations.

According to A&E spokesman Dan Silberman, the delegates, local role models who have been in recovery for10 years or more and are active in their local communities, carried white banners, proclaiming their names and the amount of time in recovery, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall Park in Manhattan. They convened there for a mass public rally that featured dignitaries from federal, state and leading non-profit organizations, politicians and celebrities. Executives from the programmer, including Bob DeBitetto, president and general manager, A&E Network and Bio Channel, were on hand.

A&E, which also worked with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, established a dedicated Web site at www.therecoveryproject.com, where users can get involved and also provided links to charitable organizations they may wish to donate time or resources..

Throughout September, AETN services ran a series of public service announcements, highlighting the importance of treatment and the hope for recovery. All told, some 22 million Americans suffer from alcohol or drug abuse, but less than 10% are getting effective treatment, according to findings from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The PSAs, which aired on  A&E, History, Bio Channel and the Crime & Investigation Network, featured messages from Whoopi Goldberg, Russell Simmons and Christopher Lawford, as well as A&E “Interventionists” Jeff Van Vonderen, Candy Finnigan and Ken Seeley.

Benjamin Bratt, star of A&E’s scripted addiction series, The Cleaner, also filmed a PSA. The Cleaner is based on the story of real-life interventionist Warren Boyd, who attended The Recovery Rally.

For its part, Comcast sent crews to the rally in New York. There, they spoke with and filmed delegates from Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle and south Florida. Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Allen said that editing and packaging work lies ahead. When those efforts are completed, Comcast local VOD folders in those markets will house segments, running between three and five minutes, featuring the respective delegates. Comcast anticipates that the shorts will be available sometime over the next few months.

They will complement a national VOD folder, where Comcast digital customers can find footage from Intervention, educational pieces, the celebrity PSAs and featurettes from the Sept 27 event. 

Going forward, A&E, according to Silberman, plans on continuing to work with operators, including Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and the Partnership for a Drug Free America, on “Intervention Town Hall” meetings across the country.

These conclaves bring together parents, teens, recovering addicts, health professionals, local treatment advocates for a locally televised panel forum and discussion that tackles local substance abuse issues affecting the community.