Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab, series is best known for analyzing
celebrities as they struggle with addiction and fame. He recently talked to Multichannel News programming
editor R. Thomas Umstead about his new HLN news-and-interview show, Dr. Drew, which launches
April 4, and how America’s fascination with celebrities and their often controversial behavior isn’t likely
to diminish. An edited transcript follows.
MCN: You couldn’t pick a better time to launch your
new show, given all the headlines that we’ve seen in the
news, both from a breaking-news standpoint and from
the celebrity front.
Dr. Drew Pinsky: It’s funny, when people interview me
and, in the past, have asked, ‘What’s your very favorite
thing on media?,’ I’ve always said it was when I sat in for
Joy [Behar] and sat in for [CNN’s] Larry King. I mean I
just love the challenge of doing a show, keeping it interesting,
getting information out there that makes a difference,
and now I’m gonna try to do that every day.
MCN: How are you looking to structure the show once it
DP: In terms of how it’s structured, we are very flexible.
Our set is fantastic. I am able to do sort of one-on-one
or face-to-face kinds of intimate interviews and in a sort
of more traditional, sit-down kind of environment, and I
have a desk, sort of more Larry King-esque or Joy-esque,
or I can bring panelists in and have discussion there.
And each show is going to be a little bit different.
MCN: Will the show be heavily tilted toward the celebrity
DP: No, although, in the first couple of weeks, we’re
probably gonna have a few celebrity interviews. Undoubtedly,
we’ll be drawn into some of the tabloid stuff ,
but I want to generally stay away from that. I don’t want
it to be a medical show, nor an addiction show, though
certainly my clinical head is gonna get involved in it and
will determine the direction of some of the conversation.
But it’s not Dr. Oz.
MCN: The reason I ask: You’re very well known for delving
into that arena and it’s such a big topic these days.
DP: Yes, and again my sensibilities will come to bear,
and no doubt those topics will be swirling around, but
I don’t want it to be about that, you know what I mean?
That’s not the theme of the show.
MCN: What is it about the fascination of the American
audience with celebrities and any addictions or shortcomings
they may have? Just [last week], everyone was
talking about Chris Brown’s meltdown of sorts, the week
before people were musing about more risqué photos
of Vanessa Hudgens hitting the web. Will this celebrity
navel-gazing ever fade for us as viewers?
DP: Not in the near term, I don’t think. I don’t see it lightening
up in the near term.
It’s concerning that we’re so focused on this stuff . I don’t
know what it’s gonna take to get people off of it, I really don’t.
So I don’t know how to answer that cause that’s sort of like
trying to predict history, and I would want to do that with
I think the British have sort of led the way on all this
stuff , and it certainly has waxed and waned but not ended
over there, so I doubt we’re going to end here.
I did book a show along those lines yesterday where I
want to talk to [Entourage star] Adrian Grenier. He did a
documentary about a child paparazzi, and I want to get him
and maybe get some other experts in here, maybe get some
paparazzi in here and people who have been brutalized by
paparazzi, and talk about what this frenzy is that’s being
fed in the general population, and how is it experienced by
the people that are the object of that frenzy. The way I would
approach it is, I have a point of view, I would tell people that
point of view but I will want that point of view to come out in
the conversation so everyone will either conclude the same
thing I’ve concluded or my mind will be changed.
MCN: What exactly is your point of view?
DP: There has been a narcissistic turn over the last hundred
years. I mean in 1850, the medical literature debated
whether narcissism and narcissistic disorders existed.
Now you can walk into any psychiatric hospital in
the country and every single patient will have a cluster-B
diagnosis, which are narcissistic disorders. And envy is
the liability that comes from narcissism, and I believe
envy is what’s being acted out here.
And envy is different than jealousy. Jealousy is, ‘I want
what you have.’ That was back in what now seems like the
more sanguine days of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,
which seemed gross then, but now seems quite tame. And
we’ve moved from jealousy to envy, which is, ‘I want what
they have and I must knock them down to my size.’
MCN: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about Charlie Sheen and the things that have
been going on recently in his
life. Are people growing tired
of it? Is that maybe a focus of
something that you may look to
do down the line?
DP: Oh, an interview with him?
I’d be happy to do an interview
with him. I’d be delighted to
do that if he wanted to. Yeah, I
think people are already tired
of it. I’m very concerned that
it’s not a static problem he has,
it’s something that progresses
and waxes and wanes and there’s
more to be told, and it could get
very dangerous and that concerns
I really don’t want to be talking
about it too much, because you’re
talking about somebody with an
illness. At a certain point, is it any
different than any other disability
that you’re gloating at? I’m getting
uncomfortable with the amount
of attention that it’s attracting.
MCN: Do you feel HLN is the optimal network to
reach the audience that you’re looking to reach?
DP: Well, not only is it the optimal sort of audience
and lineup, but also the culture here is very healthy
and very accommodating.
MCN: Given all the things that you’re doing, do you
ever worry about the potential overexposure of your
brand and of yourself on television?
DP: It seems like in this day of splintered media, it’s
not nearly the kind of problem I supposed it was at
one time. I think to maintain a brand you have to
appear in multiple platforms and multiple demos
MCN: On a personal note, do you have any particular
DP: Work. I’m a workaholic and I’m an exercise bulimic
a little bit. We all have our stuff . But I’m definitely a workaholic and when I get really going with
work, it spirals out
of control; I can’t
stop it because I like
working so much.
And then the exercise
thing is a little
as problems go, it
works for me.
MCN: If we’re talking
a year from now,
what do you see for
DP: With this show,
I hope that we will
have sort of found
our story. You know
what I mean? I feel
like we’re gonna find
what it is that our audience
us, to really hone our
focus and it’s probably
the kind of story
we’re gonna follow
on a regular basis.
And we don’t really
know what that is until we get this thing up on its
feet. I would like to build a rich arena for conversation.
So if we’ve done that and people want to participate
in it, I will be very, very happy.