‘Wonderland’ flak

Org seeks ad pullout, sez ABC show promotes stigma

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is urging advertisers to pull support from ABC’s “Wonderland” because they say the show “reinforces ignorance and stigma” toward mental illness.

NAMI has already contacted companies that sponsored last week’s premiere of the primetime drama, which is set in a criminal psychiatric hospital. One sponsor, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, maker of the prescription medication Prilosec, already has withdrawn support. During “Wonderland’s” premiere Thursday, two Prilosec commercials aired.

“We are grateful for AstraZeneca’s responsiveness,” said NAMI executive director Laurie Flynn. “We hope other companies will follow their lead. ‘Wonderland’ is not a show that any company that cares about people should want to be identified with.” Flynn specifically objects to the fact that “Wonderland” “offers only a very narrow view of our world, involving the most extreme cases.”

Fully sponsored

But, ABC is not concerned about the backlash. ” ‘Wonderland’ is fully sponsored,” said an ABC spokeswoman. “No advertisers have pulled out.”

In fact, sources said Tuesday that AstraZeneca had not, in fact, scheduled any future spots beyond the initial episode of “Wonderland,” so they are not pulling out of a previous commitment.

NAMI also has organized a coalition of mental health organizations that have called for the White House to challenge stigma in the entertainment industry. ” ‘Wonderland’ is the latest in a long line of movies and television shows featuring plots and characters that connect mental illness with violence or depict people with mental illness primarily as caricatures or stereotypes — subjects of humor or derision,” the coalition declared in its national call to action. “We doubt very much that ABC would have portrayed another group in America in such a manner.”

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