Violence tops industry org’s 1994 agenda

The Entertainment Industries Council, which has provided advice to the industry on the depiction of alcohol consumption, smoking and seat belt use, will soon address the issue of violence in the media.

High priority for ’94

It will be one of the first subjects the EIC tackles in 1994, even as criticism of the industry on this issue continues to swirl. On Saturday, President Clinton addressed the matter during a speech to some prominent entertainment industry officials at Creative Artists Agency.

And just this week, the heads of four of the country’s largest medical associations wrote a letter to Hollywood’s top brass, offering their expertise to lessen the harmful effects of violence portrayals.

“We recognize the role entertainment media play in this problem and the ability they have to make a major contribution to the solution,” the doctors wrote. The associations represented included the American Psychological Assn., the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Assn. and the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

The EIC, meanwhile, has recently published a book titled “Spotlight on Depiction,” a compacted encyclopedia of information on how best to present stories that involve HIV/AIDS, alcohol, children of alcoholics, tobacco, women and addiction, mental illness, safety belt use and drunken driving.

“We’ve been issuing these reports in various segments over the past 10 years, ” noted Brian Dyak, EIC’s prexy and CEO. “But this is the first time we’ve put it all together and packaged it as a complete resource.”

EIC will continuously update the book, with new sections to address violence, cancer detection (specifically for women), awareness of President Clinton’s national service program, pedestrian safety and residential speeding, to name a few.

“Our objective is to get the word out to the industry so that they, in turn, can make people think more,” Dyak said. “Just think, it was only 10 or 12 years ago that Henry Winkler, as the ‘Fonz’ (on “Happy Days”) took out a library card and suddenly everyone was taking out library cards.”

As for the issue of violence in the media, Dyak said the recent controversy is nothing new.

“The industry has been dealing with this and many other issues for a long time,” he said. “I think our existence shows that the industry has accepted a social responsibility and they have changed the image about drugs and alcohol use.”

So far, the EIC has distributed 2,000 of the books, at a cost of about $ 75, 000. Some were given directly to politicians on Capitol Hill.

“We want to be involved, as much as we can,” Dyak noted. “We want to concentrate our efforts on public health issues, at least for 1994. If an issue lends itself toward creating a healthier lifestyle, it fits for us.”

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