MTV Premieres Original Movie For Television

By | January 15, 2002 at 12:00 AM

MTV: Music Television will premiere its most recent original movie for television, “Wasted.” The movie, directed by Stephen Kay (The Last Time I Committed Suicide), stars Summer Phoenix [The Laramie Project, The Believer], Nick Stahl [In the Bedroom, Bully], and Aaron Paul [“Judging Amy”, Whatever It Takes]. Based on extensive research, “Wasted” chronicles the resurgence of heroin use among young people in recent years.

With a cheap price tag and an enhanced purity-enabling users to snort the drug and do away with the stigma of the needle-heroin proved irresistible to high school students with money to spend, time on their hands and an eagerness to experiment.

“Wasted” portrays the impact of heroin on the lives of best friends, SAMANTHA (Phoenix), CHRIS (Stahl) and OWEN (Paul), as they navigate their senior year of high school in a typical suburban town. Sam has been dating the charismatic and restless Owen, while introspective and sensitive Chris remainstheir mutual best friend. Somewhere along the way, Sam and Owen began snorting heroin together. Chris watches without judgment as his friends’ casual experimentation escalates to habitual dependency, but he chooses to concentrate his own attention on his promising track career, rather than partying. Oblivious to the fact that the local emergency room has been attending to a recent surge in heroin overdoes, Sam and Owen continue indulging in the drug. The reality of heroin’s danger sets in, however, when Sam becomes the next overdose victim to be rushed to the hospital. When Sam sobers up, the doctor tells her distraught father that she should begin attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Since Owen’s driver’s license has been revoked, Chris volunteers to drive Sam to and from her meetings.

As Sam struggles to stay sober and Chris wrestles with a splintered home life, the two friends grow closer as they drive to and from her NA meetings. While Owen misses the old “fun” Sam, Chris finds in her sobriety a confidanteand true friend. Sam and Chris’s bond eventually develops into a romantic relationship and she pulls away from Owen. But Chris is tormented with the idea that Sam and Owen shared something he cannot understand. When Chris questions her, Sam admits that heroin is an incredible high, but that it only offers a temporary escape from life’s problems. Chris’s frustrated curiosity comes out on the track, where he is badly injured during a race. Defeated, Chris goes out for a drive and runs into Owen waiting for his dealer. He decides to try heroin just one time.

Chris is sure he can leave the experience behind him, but he can’t resist when Owen asks him to get more drugs with him the next day. When Sam realizes that Chris is using, she painfully resolves to stop seeing him. Chris and Owen start hanging out with Owen’s younger, thrill-seeking girlfriend, AMY (Brittney Irvin). When Owen and Chris have a violent run-in with a dealer, Chris, strung out and afraid, finally reaches out to Sam. She tries to help, but finds herself gravitationally drawn back to the drug. All at once the gang is back together again. The friends strike a daily rhythm getting high and pulling scams to pay for their habit, until Chris and Sam are arrested for robbery. Sam is placed in rehab and Chris goes home to get sober. When Sam gets out, she has a new commitment to a sober life, and she and her father are relieved to open her acceptance letter to college.

After being separated from each other during their harrowing detox periods, Chris and Sam reconnect and try to figure out what to do next. Sam seems to have a budding optimistic outlook, while Chris appears unsure of his own future. Their conversation is interrupted by a phone call from Owen, who is at the hospital with Amy. She has slipped into a coma after trying heroin for the first time. Upon their arrival, Owen begs Chris to go to his house and get rid of paraphernalia lying out that would implicate him. Sam begs Chris not to go, but he doesn’t listen. When he gets there, Chris can’t fight the temptation in a bag of leftover heroin… and it’s enough to kill him.

The next morning, the police bust 32 high school students for dealing. The town hopes the raid will send a message of intolerance. Sam notices Chris’s absence, and gets to Owen’s house in time to see the police remove his body. With Owen in jail, Amy in a coma and Chris gone, Sam realizes that although she will never be able to make sense of what has happened, she has the strength to continue her life clean and sober.

MTV originally covered the heroin epidemic amongst young people in March, 1998 in “True Life: Fatal Dose,” a documentary hosted by MTV News correspondent Serena Altschul.

Under the helm of Maggie Malina, the made for television movies division has been thriving since its inception two years ago with “2gether.” Other MTV original movies for television, have included “Jailbait,” “Love Song,” “Anatomy of a Hate Crime,” and, most recently, “MTV’s Hip Hopera: Carmen,” starring Grammy Award-Winning recording artist Beyonce Knowles from Destiny’s Child.

“Wasted” is executive produced by Maggie Malina and produced by Bill Bannerman.

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