Alicia Cohn

Monday, October 14, 2013

Matthew Perry pushes policy

Original article published in The Washington Examiner: May 7, 2013

Matthew Perry prefers real policy to playing political on TV

Drug courts -- a judicial process that puts nonviolent substance-abuse offenders into treatment instead of the prison system -- seems like a heavy cause. But with Matthew Perry as celebrity spokesman, expect to hear a lighter side.

"Eight years ago, when I was having to rush to the bathroom to try to make the toilet to vomit in it, and missing slightly and vomiting all over my shirt, I thought to myself, 'Someday, I'm going to get an award for this,' " Perry joked to Yeas & Nays on Monday.

At the White House earlier in the day, National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske presented the Champion of Recovery Award to the actor and the man Perry calls his "best friend and the best interventionist in the country," Earl Hightower. (Hightower praised Perry right back, calling him the best-case scenario of a celebrity advocate and a man who "walks like he talks.")

Perry then spoke at a congressional staff briefing on Capitol Hill with the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, already working on increasing appropriations funding for next year.

"It's no secret that I've had my own troubles with addiction in the past," Perry said. "One of the ways that I crossed over into recovery was finally understanding that one of the ways out is to live for others, and to get outside yourself and help others. I do a lot of one-on-one work with people in Los Angeles, but through [NADCP] I'm able to help people on a much grander scale through drug courts."

Drug courts might seem ripe for a legal drama -- perhaps a plotline on "The Good Wife," a show on which Perry recently guest starred -- but Perry said he'd rather work on the topic in real life than fiction. Same for a hypothetical role on another political drama, such as the role he called "really fun" on D.C.-favorite "The West Wing."

"I'm getting a real kick out of doing it for real," he said. "It's been very moving to try to help these people in this way."

It just might be possible to achieve NADCP's goal of a drug court in every county by cracking a joke or two along the way, but one joke Perry won't make is about a "Friends" reunion. He's aware that rumors -- which he calls "completely out of nowhere" -- recently surged yet again, but when Yeas & Nays dutifully asked about the possibility, he replied: "Not happening."