Hollywood embraces Internet, Dr. Drew style
By Jay DeFoore
LOS ANGELES - You've seen him on MTV, you've heard him on the radio - giving advice to the frightened, sexually frustrated, sometimes desperate college students. Now Dr. Drew is taking his act to the Internet - hoping the college crowd will follow in tow.
The celebrity doctor, who has made a career out of advising young people on matters of relationships, sex and health, is now Editor in Chief of a Web site bearing his name. DrDrew.com, Drew Pinsky's latest and most ambitious venture, looks to fuse the features of traditional media with the anonymity and interactivity of the Internet.
The site will offer a variety of services geared towards attracting a college audience, including chat rooms, movie reviews and celebrity interviews. But what really sets Dr.Drew.com apart from other sites geared at the college crowd is that it features the first internet webcast of its kind - a live venue where the audience can call in or chat with Drew, live, about whatever is troubling them.
At a recent party in Los Angeles to celebrate the site's launch, actors, comedians, Internet mavens and a few naked musicians showed up at West Hollywood's Skybar to booze 'n' schmooze with the site's creators. Those in attendance included Dr. Drew's "Loveline" co-host Adam Corolla, comedian Jimmy Kimmel and "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher.
Like most Hollywood gatherings, this party had its share of TV cameras and beautiful people. But unlike premiere parties for movies, everyone seemed connected to the Internet in some way. DrDrew.com CEO Curtis Giesen, Managing Editor Jennifer Maerz and Dr. Drew himself all championed the advantages of Web-based media while the catch phrases "connectivity" and "online community" floated around almost as freely as the complimentary drinks.
Pinsky likened the party atmosphere to the early days of radio, when the medium seemed loaded with possibilities. But unlike radio or TV, Pinsky said the live web casts offer a greater sense of intimacy. "Doing the web cast had a totally different feel from TV," Pinsky said. "On an MTV shoot you have the cameras staring you in the face. Here it just felt like people sitting down to talk."
Dr. Drew (right) presents DrDrew.com's CEO, Curtis Giesen
The site's laid-back attitude could be seen in Giesen's attire - baseball cap and suit - as well as the hip, 20-something staffers. Maerz, the site's tattooed, 25-year-old Managing Editor, said the Internet opens up more possibilities for any kind of story that's happening or affecting people right now. "With print (magazines) you have to wait a month until the next issue comes out," Maerz said. "On the Internet you decide you want to do this and you do it the next day."
The always-moving, always-dapper Dr. Drew posed for pictures and gave interviews throughout the night, once joking that in his next life he'd like to give time management seminars for a living. Juggling career and family hasn't been easy for the husband and father of triplets, but Dr. Drew said he's driven by the desire to help as many young people as possible.
DrDrew.com's Managing Editor, Jennifer Maerz
"When we think about who we want to reach, we think of 20-year-old college students," Pinsky said. "Kids high school age and younger emulate the college kids so we looked for the largest cultural sweep."
His main mission is helping the 20-something crowd find solutions to simple and complex health issues. And while he admitted most college students are covered under their parents' or school's health care plans, Pinsky said many of them aren't comfortable sharing their problems with family or strangers.
"For the most part young people don't acknowledge that they have health care needs or are apprehensive about the traditional systems," Pinsky said. "What we try to do is influence their overall health and act as a catalyst for getting treatment."
Towards the end of the night a decidedly un-Dr. Drew moment occurred. With the open bar giving way to $10 drinks, a member of the San Diego punk band Unwritten Law and an unidentified female stripped down to their birthday suits, and jumped into the pool where the drDrew.com URL was projected. It would have been a perfect moment for the doctor's psychoanalysis: My boyfriend likes to get naked in public. What should I do?
But by then Dr. Drew was long gone, having raced off into the night to fulfill his commitment over the airwaves.
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