Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

September 14, 2012

Actress shares her story of addiction and recovery

Kristen Johnston presents her book “GUTS” Sept. 26 at the City Opera House

TRAVERSE CITY — Kristen Johnston, celebrated as an Emmy Award-winning comedic actress, has also lived with a devastating secret.

While her career flourished, the star of Third Rock from the Sun says she struggled with an addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.

Now five years clean and sober, Johnston has written a memoir, "GUTS: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster." The bestselling book chronicles her struggle to overcome the addiction she had long kept quiet from even those closest to her.

Johnston will share readings from the book as Addiction Treatment Services presents GUTS: An Evening with Kristen Johnston at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the City Opera House in Traverse City.

"We are so thrilled to have Ms. Johnston come share her story with our community, and help shed some light on the issue of addiction," said Addiction Treatment Services executive director, Christopher Hindbaugh.

Hindbaugh hopes that if people like Johnston speak out on their own addiction issues, it will be a call to action for other people in the community to do the same.

"We want to put a face on addiction that everyone knows and Kristen Johnston is the perfect person to help us do that," he said.

Local filmmaker, Aaron Dennis, of Stone Hut Studios, is looking forward to helping Johnston spread her story of addiction and recovery.

The maker of "The People and the Olive" will produce a short film based on Johnston's first presentation on the subject to a live audience.

"I'm all about making films for a better world," said Dennis, noting that both Addiction Treatment Services and Johnston will be able to use the film to help bring the issue of addiction to light.

Dennis won't be alone in documenting Johnston's personal story. Greg Williams, an independent filmmaker from Danbury, Conn. will be filming her performance to include in his compilation of recovery stories, "The Anonymous People." The feature-length documentary will be told through the faces and voices of the leaders, volunteers, corporate executives and celebrities who are sharing their personal recovery stories.

"We need to change the stereotype of what it is to be an addict, to reduce the stigma and celebrate hope. Sharing this story is a great opportunity for our community," Hindbaugh said.

Tickets for the event start at $15 and are available at or by calling 941-8082.

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