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The TV Junkie Comes Clean on Oprah Today

Rick Kirkham, the TV Junkie himself, will appear on The Oprah Winfry show today as part of an episode about addiction.
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TV Junkie, the acclaimed documentary assembled from thousand of hours of former TV journalist-turned-crack addict Rick Kirkham's video diaries, debuted on HBO a few weeks back -- more than a year after co-directors Matt Radecki and AFI Dallas film fest co-founder Michael Cain premiered TV Junkie at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize. Friends of Unfair Park might recall that shortly before the film bowed on HBO, as part of the network's "Addiction" series, Kirkham's ex-wife Tammie filed a temporary restraining order in Dallas court, begging a judge to keep her and her kids' faces off national TV. The judge denied the TRO, and TV Junkie has received plenty of press and pub in recent weeks; in mid-March Salon called it "an eye-opening cautionary tale for those who think that drug use couldn't possibly lead them down such a depraved path," and, yeah, that's about right.

Well, three weeks after its premiere, TV Junkie and the rest of the HBO series -- which included Jon Alpert's 6-minute film Saturday Night in a Dallas ER, set, of course, at Parkland Hospital -- receive the biggest publicity push possible: an entire episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Called "Addiction: Why Can't They Stop?," it features several of the folks from the HBO special -- including Kirkham, who lives here and still videotapes all of his day-to-day doings, though he's been clean and sober for years. There's little doubt Kirkham will recount this tale prominently featured on Winfrey's Web site: "At an anti-drug event in Houston, Rick was offered the interview of a lifetime -- President George H.W. Bush. But, what should have been a career high became a personal low point. 'I had been smoking crack an hour beforehand, so I was high when I interviewed the president,' he says."

Winfrey "was very kind to me and sees we are trying to make a difference in the battle against addiction," Kirkham writes in an e-mail. "I have found a renewed source of energy to fight those who push drugs on our children. I will not stop until my last breath in trying to educate anyone and everyone on the dangers of addiction." The Oprah Winfrey Show airs locally at 4 p.m. on WFAA-Channel 8. --Robert Wilonsky

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