So VH1 has managed to round up yet another passel of Hollywood’s D-list for a fifth season of “Celebrity Rehab.” The mildly familiar names who will be gracing us with their detox vomiting and general grumpiness beginning Sunday, June 26 at 9 p.m. are Sean Young (“Bladerunner”), Michael Lohan (Lindsay’s dad), Bai Ling (“The Crow), Amy Fisher (the infamous Long Island Lolita), Jeremy Jackson (“Baywatch”), Dwight Gooden, Jessica Kipper (“Survivor”) and relapsing alumnus Steven Adler (Guns n’ Roses).
Every season I’m pretty sure the show has scraped the bottom of the barrel in looking for so-called stars, but this time the show may want to change its title to “People You’ve Never Heard of Rehab” or “We Consider Someone Who Shoots A Woman in the Head with an Arrow and Made A Porn Movie A Celebrity Rehab.” Sorry, Amy. But as hard as it is to convince even foggy-brained addicts to appear on a show for questionable exposure and free counseling, I’m sure it’s only going to get harder. The deaths of Alice in Chains rocker Mike Starr (season 3) and Jeff Conaway (seasons 1 and 2) earlier this year cast a sizable shadow on the show. As many times as Dr. Drew warned his wards (and, indirectly, us) that recovering addicts often slip with sometimes fatal consequences, these deaths (granted, Conaway’s autopsy is not yet in) made it clear that even Dr. Drew’s level-headed assistance is not a miracle cure. For better or for worse, the participants on “Celebrity Rehab” aren’t just mugging for the cameras.
There have long been questions about whether showing anyone in rehab, much less public figures, is appropriate or even ethical. While I think both sides of the argument have valid points, I also think, having watched the show since season one, it’s a far cry from most so-called do-gooder reality programming. I tend to buy Dr. Drew’s argument that he and his staff offer valid treatment to participants and, though they may lose some privacy and likely amp up the drama for the cameras, their trials serve to demystify the rehab process. You know the old saw; if one person goes into rehab after seeing the show, yada yada yada. And at this point, it seems some of these “stars” are going into the process hoping to exploit their time on the show, not the other way around. If you have to Google most of the names above, you won’t be the only one. I’m sure at least one of them may have just needed a clean place to sleep and a shower. If Dr. Drew manages to get them cleaned up in the process, it’s a win-win for all involved.
But what may be the most telling item about “Celebrity Rehab” is who won’t be appearing on the show: “Real Housewives of D.C.” star Michaele Salahi. After going through the pre-taping assessments for the show, she was given the boot in March for, basically, not being an addict. Apparently, being a narcissistic fame whore is not one of the diseases Dr. Drew is inclined to treat. Regardless of what fantastic plan a participant may have going in (renewed celebrity, a shot at other reality TV gigs, a hope of derailing the program, a shower), Dr. Drew’s plan is to sneak in there and, whether they expect it or not, help these people. Whether Dr. Drew loves the sound of his own voice (we do hear an awful lot of it whenever a star goes down in flames) or not seems beside the point. Granted, I’ve listened to more episodes of “Love Line” than I care to admit, but it seems to me that one thing that’s never wavered with the guy is his commitment to pulling lost souls out of the gutter. And at the end of the day, when the cameras finally shut down and the lights are turned off, that’s all that matters.