“The Insider” snagged top film honors Wednesday at the fourth annual Prism Awards (which recognizes accurate depictions of substance abuse in the media), but pic’s subject, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, said he wouldn’t pressure filmmakers to share his views on tobacco.
Speaking at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Wigand thanked Prism sponsor The Entertainment Industries Council for “giving (‘The Insider’) true recognition for taking on an important social issue.”
But at the same time, he said, “I have no aspirations of working in politics or in the entertainment industry. My only goal is to be an educator (about the dangers of smoking addiction).”
“Insider” producer-helmer Michael Mann was equally reluctant about preaching to Hollywood about how to portray drug, alcohol and tobacco use.
“I recoil from the notion of anyone trying to lobby about what films we should and should not do,” Mann told Daily Variety. “It’s hard enough just to make a great film.”
Mann assured that “any acknowledgment of the film is appreciated.”
However, he said, “the issue at the core of ‘The Insider’ is corporate malfeasance — it doesn’t condemn anyone for smoking cigarettes.”
His main objective is to “really honor Jeffrey and what he’s saying to tobacco companies.”
The Entertainment Industries Council received 158 TV and film entries this year, up from just 35 four years ago.
“It’s getting more known in the industry,” said EIC topper Brian Dyak.
But as far as seeing increased accurate addiction portrayals in the near future, Dyak admitted that “the bottom-line is still business.”
In other Prism kudos, WB’s “Smart Guy” episode “Never Too Young” won best TV comedy seg; ABC’s “Once and Again,” seg “Outside Hearts,” TV dramatic episode; HBO’s “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” TV movie; “Batman Beyond” seg “The Winning Edge,” kiddie animated series episode; and “Leeza,” “Back from the Brink: One Woman’s Journey,” TV talk episode.
Michael Keaton and Kathy Baker (“Picket Fences”) were presented with awards for their groundbreaking work in 1988’s “Clean and Sober.”