The entertainment industry is not all glee and games.

I get breaking news from CNN pushed to my iPhone, as I’m sure a lot of you do as well.  And I’ve read some pretty sad things over the years.

But for some reason, the death of Cory Monteith hit me a little harder than any of the other alerts I’ve received.  And I only made it through a season and a half of Glee.  

Maybe it was because he was only 31.  Maybe it was because he was talked about as one of the nicest guys on the planet.  Or maybe it was because he was dating Lea Michele, who I remember from my days as the Associate Company Manager on Ragtime, and my heart is breaking for her . . . especially since she was standing by him during his recent troubled times.

Or maybe it was because he was on a show called Glee – so how could anything so the opposite of glee” happen to him?

Cory had a history of war with substance abuse.  He had fought a battle and won when he was nineteen thanks to a family staged intervention.  “I’m lucky to be alive,” he was quoted as saying after he came through it.

Just a few years later, he dove head first into the entertainment industry . . . and after a few years of bangin’ round the boards, he submitted a tape of himself drumming on tupperware which got the attention of Ryan Murphy, who forced him to sing something . . . anything . . . and the next thing you know, this Canadian kid with a troubled past, was a big star in Hollywood, and loved by millions, and making millions.

I’m not going to begin to guess what happened or when it happened or how it happened.  I don’t know where Cory got off track, and I don’t know why the rehab he checked into just a few months ago didn’t take.

But I do know this.

Success in the entertainment industry . . . on either coast . . . can be an awesome thing.  It can bring the adulation of screaming fans.  It can bring you more money than you ever thought you’d have in a lifetime.  And it can bring you a sense of power and invincibility that might even trump the power of politics.

And that’s why it’s so essential for us to look out for each other, and especially the kids in our biz who achieve overnight success.

Because the bright lights of Broadway and Hollywood can be blinding.  And losing good people like Cory just can’t continue.  

Our deepest condolences to the the Monteith family, the Glee family, and everyone out there battling with addiction.

I’m making a donation in Cory’s memory to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (did you know that 90% of alcohol and drug dependencies begin in the teenage years?).  Join me.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.