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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.

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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