Archive for the ‘Intervention’ Category

Shocking ‘Intervention’ story on addicted boxer

April 6, 2010

YO, ROCKY! This is former junior lightweight boxing champion Rocky Lockridge, who became a homeless crackhead on the streets of Camden, N.J., and ended up on “Intervention” last night (April 5). Photo: GRB Productions

MOST ASTONISHING EPISODE YET FOR THIS AMAZING SERIES

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, April 6, 2010 — “Intervention” has featured so many shocking stories of addiction that it might seem impossible for the show to top itself.

But last night, it did just that.  It was the story of a former two-time boxing champion who has lived for nearly 20 years on the streets of Camden, N.J., panhandling and smoking crack.  It was the most astonishing single episode of a TV show seen so far this year.

As reality shows go, this A&E series — now in its eighth season — goes deeper into the private worlds of its subjects than any other unscripted series.  And last night, the show took viewers on a harrowing  journey to one of the most forlorn locations ever seen on TV, period.

Producer David Simon’s Baltimore (“The Wire”) and producer Shawn Ryan’s Los Angeles (“The Shield”) were formerly TV’s champions of urban grit, but “Intervention” — produced by an outfit called GRB Entertainment out of Sherman Oaks, Calif. (the GRB stands for Gary R. Benz, the company’s president) — bested them both with its on-location documenting of the life of Rocky Lockridge, 51.

Champion: Rocky Lockridge in his prime in the early 1980s.

Lockridge once won two junior lightweight titles, but has been fighting a losing battle with drugs and alcohol ever since.  He was estranged from his two 25-year-old twin sons for more than 15 years;  one of them, Lamar, avoided contact with his father right up until the taping of last night’s episode.  Earlier in the show, Lamar faced a camera and admitted he “hated” his father.

On the show, Lockridge was seen begging for crack money on a littered street corner in one of Camden’s worst neighborhoods, a region of abandoned houses and broken sidewalks.  In alleys and backyards overgrown with weeds, Lockridge would turn his day’s earnings over to the crack sellers and eagerly use crack — snorting and smoking it.

And then there was the intervention, led by interventionist Cindy Finnigan.  Many of the interventions shown on the series — in which family members tearfully implore their addicted loved one to accept their offer of rehabilitation — are deeply moving.   But last night’s was the rawest yet, as Lamar and his brother Ricky vented years of frustration and anger over their father’s abandonment yet nevertheless told him they loved him and begged him through uncontrollable tears to get help.

As the episode concluded with its ending theme song, “Five Steps” by the Brooklyn-based band The Davenports, uncertainty lingered over the effectiveness of Rocky’s stint in rehab as viewers learned that Rocky left the facility after only two-and-a-half months, without completing the program and against the advice of his counselors, and is now living with another “sober” patient somewhere in Louisiana.  Long-time “Intervention” watchers may have taken that as a sign that his rehabilitation didn’t take, although the episode’s parting statement on-screen said he’s been sober since November 2009.

“Intervention,” airing Monday nights on A&E, won an Emmy last fall for best reality series.   The award was richly deserved.

MOMENT OF TRUTH — A key scene from this week’s “Intervention” on A&E: Ex-boxer Rocky Lockridge (left) agrees to go to rehab after hearing tearful pleas from his estranged twin sons, Ricky (center) and Lamar. Photo: GRB Productions

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com

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TV to get more cluttered with hoarders, addicts

March 12, 2010

Does this look like a television star to you? Hoarder “Augustine” was profiled on an episode of “Hoarders” on A&E. (Photo: A&E)

COPYCAT TLC WANTS A PIECE OF A&E’S ACTION

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, March 12, 2010 — You’ll know the competition between TLC and A&E has really heated up when A&E starts producing shows about dwarfs.

However, in this contest between cable networks, A&E is not the aggressor — yet.  That title goes to TLC, the Discovery-owned cable channel once known as The Learning Channel and now best known for its emphasis on super-sized families and plucky little people.

Next week, TLC invades territory formerly occupied exclusively by A&E — the world of hoarders and drug addicts.  Representatives of both groups have taken up residence Monday nights on A&E to great acclaim and open-mouthed astonishment.  No one can fail to be amazed (and also somewhat sickened and horrified) by the stories told each week on A&E’s “Intervention,” about addicts and their beleaguered loved ones, and “Hoarders,” about people who fill their homes with junk and then face eviction or condemnation from their local governments.

No rules seem to govern or prohibit the practice of copycatting in the TV business, but TLC’s launch next week of “Hoarding: Buried Alive” (Sunday, March 14, at 10 p.m.) and “Addicted” (Wednesday, March 17, at 10 p.m.) seems particularly blatant.  In fact, “blatant” is the word one A&E source used to describe TLC’s encroachment on A&E’s turf.

Officially, A&E released a statement in response to a TV Howl query about the similarities between “Hoarding” (TLC) and “Hoarders” (A&E), and “Addicted” (TLC) and “Intervention” (A&E).  “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” the A&E statement said — the usual quote companies trot out at times like these when they would rather appear gracious or sportsmanlike than annoyed or even ticked off.

Who can forget the incredible story of “huffing” addict “Allison” on A&E’s “Intervention”? Here, she loads up on the aerosol cans she used to feed her addiction to chemical inhalants. (Photo: A&E)

The real question for TLC is whether there is room on TV for more hoarders and addicts.  For many, one hour spent each week on each of these subjects might be enough.  Some- times, it’s more than enough.  Even the most hardened TV watcher (namely, me) finds it difficult at times to get through an entire hour of “Hoarders” or “Intervention,” so pathetic and upsetting are some of the stories.

“Hoarders” is particularly difficult; yes, these homes are pretty well cleaned out and reasonably cleaned up by the end of each show, but what is usually left are homes in grave states of disrepair and the homes’ residents left desolate and, it seems to a viewer, likely to begin hoarding again as soon as the show’s film crew leaves the premises.

TLC’s entry into the hoarding and addiction categories signals a new ramping up of the competition for reality subjects on cable — particularly between TLC and A&E.  A&E is known for “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels,” the new “Steven Seagal: Lawman,” “Paranormal State,” “Parking Wars” (a personal favorite) and a slew of others, including “Billy the Exterminator” (this is a TV personality on the rise, folks) and the upcoming “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life.”

TLC’s slate is equally diverse, with shows on dressing well (“Say Yes to the Dress” and “What Not to Wear”) and baking (the ubiquitous “Cake Boss”).  However, most people identify TLC with that mammoth Duggar family (“19 Kids and Counting”) or the dysfunctional Gosselins (“Jon and Kate Plus 8”), or all those little-people shows: “Little Chocolatiers,” “Little People, Big World,” “Our Little Life,” “The Little Couple” and others (the other night, there appeared a one-off about another “little” couple seeking to adopt a “little” orphan).

As I write this, there are producers and talent scouts criss-crossing the country and surfing the Internet in search of real-life personalities around which to build reality shows — mall cops, tow-truck operators, various animal “whisperers” and many, many others.  The development of these types of TV shows is becoming  (or has already become) one of the hottest corners of the TV business.    Watch out, hoarders and addicts, the next knock on your door might be a TV producer.

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com


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