The 10 Most Memorable TV Interventions

By McCarton Ackerman 03/12/13

Intervention isn’t the only program to show, well, interventions. Check out our roundup of the most bizarre, dramatic and outrageous examples in television history.

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Jael Strauss's on-screen moment of truth Photo via

Ruthie Alcaide, The Real World: Hawaii, Season 8 (1999)

The Real World has became synonymous with excessive binge drinking, but the show first "stopped being polite and started getting real" during its Hawaii season due to the alcoholism of cast member Ruthie Alcaide. On day two in the house, Alcaide got so drunk that she had to be rushed to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. A few weeks later, she was filmed drunk driving. Her housemates put on the show’s first ever intervention, ordering Alcaide to go into inpatient rehab or leave the house. She was initially resistant but eventually agreed. “I don’t think I’m an alcoholic, but I do believe that I let alcohol take over my life and I’m ready to take that control back,” she said. Since then, Alcaide has remained sober. She now lives in Los Angeles and promotes alcohol awareness through speaking engagements at colleges across the country.

 

 

Taylor Armstrong, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 3 (2012) 

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are known to have a cocktail (or four), but became concerned this season over the excessive boozing of fellow cast member Taylor Armstrong. In an episode that aired on February 25, she was shown “losing” her six-year old daughter as a result of her drinking. Kim Richards, who is now a year sober, led the intervention and accused Armstrong of using alcohol to deal with her feelings. Armstrong, who lost her husband Russell when he committed suicide in 2011, admitted she was using alcohol as a coping mechanism. “I don’t drink very often, but when I drink I find that I can forget a little bit about all the stress I’m under and all the pain I’m feeling,” she said. However, Armstrong never received professional help, and a blog post she wrote after the show also accused Richards of overstepping her bounds. “Dr. Drew, you are not," she wrote.

 

Danny Bonaduce, Breaking Bonaduce, Season 1 (2005)

In Season 1 of this reality docu-drama, former child actor Danny Bonaduce drank until he blacked out, attempted to drive home drunk and slashed his wrists when he found out his wife Gretchen was hiring male strippers for her 40th birthday party. Gretchen later confided to their therapist, Dr. Garry, that Bonaduce’s alcohol, steroid and painkiller use had taken over their lives and affected their children. Dr. Garry confronted Bonaduce off-camera, refusing to work with him until he received treatment for his addictions. He agreed to treatment and decided to tattoo his first day of sobriety onto his arm as a gesture of his commitment. Despite remaining sober for the rest of the season, his manic and belligerent behavior returned in Season 2, ultimately leading to Gretchen kicking him out of the house and his AA group staging another intervention.

 

 

Robb Schreiber, The Real World: St. Thomas, Season 27 (2012)

The Real World’s most recent intervention took place during its St. Thomas season, when cast members became increasingly concerned about Robb’s drinking and self-harm issues. Rob was binge drinking daily throughout the season, stubbed cigarettes out on his arm and punched himself in the face. Fellow cast member Brandon pointed out that "drinking is a downer" for Robb and usually the start of his self-harm. But while Robb agreed to get help for his issues with self-harm, he denied having a drinking problem. "I don’t think, you know, I’m an alcoholic. I think I just drink too much. Appreciate you guys coming out here, though," he said during the intervention.

 

Jael Strauss, Dr. Phil (2012)

Having been in the top six of America's Top Model, Jael Strauss's family reached out to Dr. Phil to stage an intervention for Strauss's "full blown" crystal meth addiction. She took one look at her family on stage and rushed out of the studio. Dr. Phil followed her onto the streets of Hollywood, stating "this is minute to minute, folks." Finding her on the street, he told her, "This is the first time in 10 years I came out to talk to someone." Her sober status is unknown at this time.

 

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Laney, Intervention, Season 3 (2007) 

“My name is Laney...and I’m rich. I can buy cars, homes and people,” declared this 36-year-old at the beginning of this episode. However, what she couldn’t buy was sobriety. The self-described “hardcore alcoholic” was blowing through her seven-figure divorce settlement on a bottle of rum every day, which brought her to the point of her liver only functioning at 20%. After landing in a hospital due to a suicide attempt, she left the facility against medical advice upon learning that her family was planning to stage an intervention. When her family conducted an “ambush intervention” anyway the next morning, Laney locked herself in her mansion and called the police. She agreed to enter treatment, but only lasted two days, before having a limo take her from the Florida rehab center back to her home in Kansas. However, the limo driver was also a part-time counselor and ultimately convinced her during the cross-country drive to give up drinking. She now lives in Florida and has been sober since June 2007.

 

Miriam, Intervention, Season 9 (2010)

A reverend at a wedding chapel, Miriam suffered from a 25-year PCP addiction that resulted in prison time and occasional prostitution, as well as some of the show’s most memorable one-liners. Her family had given up on her gaining sobriety, and her relationship with her daughter Sireena was estranged, after being taken away from her years before. Miriam agreed to enter inpatient treatment and moved into a sober living facility in Florida after 90 days. She has been sober since March 12, 2010.

  

 

Dennis Rodman, Celebrity Apprentice, Season 2 (2009)

Long before he became a diplomat for US-North Korean relations, Dennis Rodman competed on the second season of Celebrity Apprentice. During the fifth episode, his double-fisting of vodka cranberries led to him physically threatening country singer Clint Black before walking out of the task for which he was the project manager. “Working with Dennis went from being funny and entertaining to just kinda sad,” noted cast member Jesse James. The show’s boardroom firing turned into an intervention, with James accusing Rodman of having a drinking problem and the entire cast agreeing. Trump fired Rodman and the credits closed in displaying the website for Alcoholics Anonymous. Rodman later appeared on Celebrity Rehab in 2010, insisting that he was now living with a sober coach. He is currently appearing on the “all-star” edition of Celebrity Apprentice and laid off the sauce for the duration of taping—but reportedly got drunk off-camera after being fired by The Donald in an episode that has yet to air.

 

Amber Smith, Celebrity Rehab, Season 2 (2008)

The prescription pill addiction of model Amber Smith was fueled largely in part by her relationship with her mother, Carol: The pair lived together and did drugs together, and Carol even admitted to helping her daughter land escort clients. During a surprise intervention from Amber and Dr. Drew, Carol revealed that she has been suffering from a 30-year painkiller addiction and had even contemplated suicide the day before. She agreed to get treatment off-camera at a separate facility. Amber reported that she has remained sober since. “We got her an apartment, and we got help through the government and other groups, and now I can afford to keep her in her own apartment. She’s in a senior citizens’ place, and she can be social,” she said in a 2011 interview.

 

 

Jeff Conaway, Celebrity Fit Club, Season 3 (2006)

Before Jeff Conaway’s struggles with drugs played out on Celebrity Rehab, the Grease star was given an intervention by his fellow cast members on Celebrity Fit Club. Conaway showed up for a fitness challenge disoriented, slurring his words and barely able to stand—which he attributed to having taken two Benadryl that morning. His bizarre and aggressive outbursts continued during the weigh-in ceremony the next day, where Chaz (then Chastity) Bono spoke for the cast by telling Jeff, “We do believe you’re on drugs.” He left the show in the third episode to enter rehab before becoming the most troubled cast member in Celebrity Rehab history. Conaway died on May 27, 2011 from pneumonia and encephalopathy attributable to drug overdoses.

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer who lives in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Time Out New YorkThe Huffington Post, abcnews.com and usopen.org, among others. He has written about Carré Otis and Celebrity Rehab, among many other topics, for The Fix.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.