Timely 2-Part Episode Puts CTV's Degrassi Into Discussion on Anorexia and Bulimia

National Eating Disorder Week Gives Way to Troubling Storylines, Feb. 20 and 27 on CTV —
Timely Two-Part Episode Puts CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation Into the National Discussion on Anorexia and Bulimia

Toronto, ON (February 2, 2006) In a society where being thin is in – and allegations about the health of young celebrities continue to swirl eating disorders are a fact of life for many of today’s teenagers.

On the eve of National Eating Disorder Awareness week (Feb. 5 11), CTV announced today the premiere of a dramatic, two-episode story arc in Degrassi: The Next Generation that draws attention to this pervasive problem. Ripped from the headlines, “Our Lips Are Sealed,” is a two-part account of how 16-year-old Emma Nelson (Miriam McDonald) battles with anorexia and bulimia. The wrenching, all-new episodes premiere Monday, February 20 and 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CTV (check local listings).

“The fear of being fat is so overwhelming that young girls have indicated in surveys that they are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of cancer, nuclear war, or losing their parents.”
– American Psychiatric Association Congressional Briefing, 1997*

“It upsets me greatly to see that young people’s body images are so affected by the media,” says Linda Schuyler, Degrassi’s Executive Producer. “The message of self-acceptance is so important, and Emma’s eating disorder brings that issue to the forefront.”

Dealing with topics involving sexuality, drugs, religion and self-esteem, Degrassi: The Next Generation the most-watched Canadian drama series** – continues to make waves, tackling topical issues that affect teenagers from all walks of life. In “Our Lips Are Sealed,” a distraught Emma throws herself into losing weight – the one thing she has control over when she confronts her parents’ recent split and the demands of keeping her relationship with Peter (Jamie Johnston) under wraps from her best friend Manny (Cassie Steele). “We haven’t starved for two days just to ruin it in 10 minutes of gluttony,” Emma tells Manny after a big family dinner. But when the sparse eating, over-exercising and constant purging become too much for her body to take, Emma collapses and a family intervention ensues.

**Media Note** High-resolution photography from “Our Lips Are Sealed” is available at http://www.ctvmedia.ca

“The upcoming Degrassi: The Next Generation storyline illustrates how people don’t start out with the idea of getting an eating disorder,” said Merryl Bear, Director, National Eating Disorder Information Centre. “These unhealthy patterns of behaviour around food, exercise and weight management begin as a way to help structure or manage stressful lives, but in the end, control the individual. As the actions of the Degrassi character Emma indicate, vanities don’t drive these preoccupations, but attempts at self-management and emotional regulation do.”

“Always topical, Degrassi has once again tackled an issue that seriously affects young people,” said Susanne Boyce, CTV’s President of Programming and Chair of the CTV Media Group. “These episodes provide an opportunity for viewers to start a dialogue about eating disorders with friends or family they are concerned about, or to reach out for the help they need themselves.”

At the end of the second episode in the “Our Lips Are Sealed” story arc, CTV will direct viewers to visit http://www.nedic.ca, the website for Canada’s National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). Nedic is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 to provide information and resources on eating disorders and food and weight preoccupation. In addition to information about eating disorders and advice on how to help friends and/or family suffering from an eating disorder, visitors to NEDIC’s website can obtain information about local organizations and outlets available to help those in need.

Canada’s most-watched original dramatic series, Degrassi: The Next Generation has hit a milestone in its current season, garnering over a million viewers***, a record for the series on CTV. Now in its fifth season, Degrassi’s audience has increased 24 per cent**** compared to Season Four.

The flagship series for United States cable network The N, enthusiasm for Degrassi on both sides of the border continues with the October 2006 release of Degrassi: Extra Credit, a series of graphic fiction novels expanding on Degrassi: The Next Generation plot elements. Weaving new adventures, challenges and life experiences, the dynamic visuals take Degrassi fans beyond the school and deep into the characters’ lives. Degrassi: Extra Credit follows other successes including the compilation CD, Songs From Degrassi: The Next Generation, featuring music from Canadian artists such as Sam Roberts and Buck 65.

This season marks the Degrassi franchise’s 25th anniversary and in addition to the compilation CD, other anniversary memorabilia available includes Degrassi: Generations, an illustrated history and the “Official 411” of the franchise, as well as a Degrassi: The Next Generation student planner.

In the United States, it ranks Number 1 with teens in its time period among all broadcasts on cable television on The N. In August 2005, the show won “Best Summer Series” at the Teen Choice Awards held in Los Angeles, California.

Degrassi: The Next Generation is produced by Epitome Pictures in association with CTV. The series was co-created by Linda Schuyler, co-producer of the original Degrassi series, and Yan Moore. Schuyler and Stephen Stohn serve as Executive Producers. Kathleen Meek is the CTV production executive working with the series. Bill Mustos is Senior Vice-President, Dramatic Programming for CTV. Susanne Boyce is President of CTV Programming and Chair of the Media Group. Degrassi: The Next Generation has been successfully licensed in Britain, France, the U.S and Australia by AAC Kids, an Alliance Atlantis Division.

Epitome Pictures and its affiliate companies have been producing quality Canadian programming since 1976, including the multi-award winning, internationally recognized Degrassi franchise, The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, which still air throughout the world. Epitome Pictures has also produced the series Liberty Street and Riverdale as well as several MOWs. For more information, please visit http://www.epitomepictures.com.

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) is the leading Canadian provider of information and referrals for disordered eating and food and weight preoccupation. A uniqe non-profit organization, NEDIC was established in 1985 and serves over 3 000 individuals each year. NEDIC’s goal is to promote healthy lifestyles that allow people to be fully engaged in their lives. For more information please see http://www.nedic.ca

* (Berzins, L. (1997). Dying to be thin: the prevention of eating disorders and the role of federal policy. APA co-sponsored congressional briefing. USA.).

**Source: Nielsen
***Source: Nielsen Media Research
****Source: Nielsen, 2005-06 vs. 2004-05 (Weeks 4-19)

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