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New Documentary Focuses On ‘Hollywood Addictions’

It’s hard to imagine how many talented artists have lost their lives to addiction. Whether it’s a musician like Prince, a young actor like Heath Ledger, or an icon like Judy Garland, drug and alcohol dependencies have been robbing the public of talent for generations. And now, a new documentary on the REELZ channel aims to put all that under the microscope.

Titled Fatal Addiction: Hollywood’s Secret Epidemic, the two-hour event explores some of the most famous overdose stories to come out of Tinseltown. And true to the title, it also intends to expose the rampant amount of substance abuse happening within the entertainment industry.

TV journalist Nancy O’Dell will be hosting the doc, which, as REELZ puts it, “exposes how many A-list celebrities are becoming victims of Hollywood’s secret opioid epidemic and what role the studios will play in ending the crisis.”

Several critics have already seen the special and called out the harsh truths it intends to portray. One particular segment highlights young anonymous actresses who are encouraged by movie studio executives to take Adderall in order to stay thinner for roles.

In the case of Garland, it is inferred that Hollywood actually fueled her addiction; which dates back to her days as a child actress. It is alleged that both her and Marilyn Monroe “were fed pills in order to perform.”

The late Michael Jackson is called out too, highlighting the “enabling doctors” who regularly wrote powerful painkiller prescriptions for the singer (which were reportedly unnecessary). Prince’s drug issues were traced back to a hip injury and the over accessibility of opioids as a quick remedy.

The doc does try to show both sides of the story, though. While acknowledging and exposing the celebrity addictions, it also has moments with journalists who believe that Hollywood is not fully to blame.

“I personally don’t think Hollywood is to blame for the opioid epidemic,” E! News correspondent Melanie Bromley says in the special. “Instead, we should blame the pharmaceutical industry and capitalism in general.”

Ultimately, though, Fatal Addiction was giving positive reviews by most critics who saw it. Daily Beast writer Amy Zimmerman found it be somewhat flawed, but praised the important message it got across.

Fatal Addiction isn’t a paradigm of sensitivity and nuance, and often falters when it attempts to propose actionable solutions,” Zimmerman wrote. “But as a history of celebrity addiction and a testament to this particularly deadly era, it’s alarmingly successful.”