Isaiah Washington announced this week that he was entering a treatment facility to help him wrestle with whatever dark personal demons caused him to repeatedly pepper his conversations with the word "faggot." Of course he did. Rehab is now an essential part of the P.R. makeover in Hollywood. Just saying you're sorry is for B-list actors only. That goes for politicians too. Blaming it on the booze is so Wilbur Mills. Florida congressmen who fall for teenage pages now promise to enter rehab the moment they depart Capitol Hill.
In the past few months alone, we've seen professional party-girl Lindsay Lohan check herself into the Wonderland Center in Los Angeles, happy-go-lusty Miss USA Tara Conner clock a few weeks at the Caron Foundation in Pennsylvania, and fallen preacher Ted Haggard promise to clean the meth and male lust from his system for three years in a Colorado program. Somehow, though, we can't picture Lindsay or Tara sitting around in folding chairs, pouring out their hearts to strangers and desperately searching for the emotional trigger to unleash their demons and conquer their addictions. As Nicole Richie, who clocked a few days at the $80,000-a-month Beau Monde treatment center, could tell them, Rodeo Drive is waiting!
In the interest of keeping you up to date on where you too can go for special star "treatment," we present celebrehab.
Isaiah Washington, slur-tossing, P.R.-averse "Grey's Anatomy" actor
Sin: First referring to his "Grey's" co-star T.R. Knight as a "faggot" during an on-set spat with Patrick Dempsey last October -- which resulted in Knight publicly coming out in People the next week -- and then denying he ever used the word when asked about it at a post-Golden Globes celebration in January.
Apology: There have been several apologies, so it's easy to lose track. Here's his first mea culpa: "I sincerely regret my actions and the unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on-set. Both are beneath my own personal standards. I have nothing but respect for my coworkers -- and have apologized personally to everyone involved." And here's the statement he gave just before heading to rehab: "I have begun counseling. I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again."
Treatment: Checking into an unnamed "center for psychological evaluation."
Results: Too early to tell if it will take, though it looks as though he's held on to his job. He's supposed to return to the set of "Grey's" in time for filming next week.
Lindsay Lohan, perennial party girl, serial dater, occasional actress
Sin: Years of bad behavior culminated at Prince's Golden Globes party, where witnesses said the wee starlet stayed out until 6 a.m. and was later found in a hotel hallway somewhere, passed out. The next day, she entered rehab.
Apology: Not exactly an apology, Lohan deigned to release this statement through her rep: "I have made a proactive decision to take care of my personal health. I appreciate your well wishes and ask that you please respect my privacy at this time."
Treatment: Lohan entered the Wonderland Center, which describes itself as a "residential treatment and detoxification facility providing services for alcohol, substance abuse and relapse-prevention programs."
Results: Her treatment is ongoing, but she has been spotted taking several vacations from the safe walls of rehab, including a shopping trip this week to buy a new Mercedes.
Britney Spears, pop star, mom, P.R. nightmare
Sin: A monthlong parade of drunken table dancing and panty-less crotch-flashing incidents that culminated in Spears' collapse (though her rep claimed she was just napping) at Caesars Palace's PURE nightclub in Las Vegas, shortly after midnight on New Year's Eve.
Apology: No official apology was issued, though on her Web site late last year, Britney did admit that in the wake of her split from K-Fed, she may have taken her "newfound freedom a little too far."
Treatment: On Jan. 1, Britney checked into Sanctuary, a tony Arizona spa, citing "exhaustion": industry shorthand for rehab.
Result: Her "exhaustion" must have been cured quickly because on Jan. 2, Spears was sighted with new beau Isaac Cohen, off the coast of Marina del Rey, Calif. After a few weeks frolicking in front of the cameras, the couple has now reportedly split -- but Brit has been busy repairing her less-than-maternal image by adopting a new dog and handing out money to homeless guys. (Bravo)
Mel Gibson, Road Warrior, Jesus director, fond user of the phrase "Sugar Tits"
Sin:Tanking up on a few extra margaritas, speeding through Malibu and then subjecting the officer who finally pulled him over to a hate-filled, anti-Semitic, misogynist rant.
Apology: A few days after his arrest, Gibson issued this statement: "I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery."
Treatment: The full alcohol rehab -- at the fancy Passages center in Malibu -- and apology tour regimen, complete with a "self-revealing" interview with Diane Sawyer.
Results: His Mayan jungle thriller "Apocalypto" opened at No. 1, but it got slim pickings when the Oscar noms were announced, getting a nod for best makeup, sound and sound editing.
Tara Conner, hard-drinkin', girl-kissin' Miss USA
Sin: Angering Donald Trump with her love of the New York nightlife, Conner delighted the gossip pages with drunken, lusty antics, including lesbian makeout scenes with Miss Teen USA and reportedly testing positive for cocaine.
Apology: When the time came to put on her public apology face, Conner showed her finely honed pageantry chops, turning on the waterworks and thanking a higher power for her deliverance: "In no way did I think it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me. You will never know how much I appreciate Mr. Trump for saving me on this one," said Conner. "I'm so happy I've been given this opportunity ... I plan on walking out of this the best Miss USA you've ever seen."
Treatment: A few soul-searching weeks at the Caron Foundation in Wernersville, Penn.
Results: Conner got out of rehab on Monday, and there were immediate rumors of a big welcome back bash for her at NYC nightspot Stereo, which her rep denied.
Nicole Richie, celebrity offspring, reality TV star, paparazzi mainstay
Sin: Worrisome thinness, which coincided with a long rough patch in her friendship with Paris Hilton and her breakup with her former fiancé, Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein.
Apology: While she did admit in Vanity Fair in May that she was "too thin" -- "I'm not happy with the way I look right now" -- it wasn't until October that she sought treatment. "Nicole Richie has decided to undergo diagnostic treatment to determine why she's not been putting on any weight," her rep told People in a statement that was a true achievement of total denial. "She is working with a team of doctors and specialists whose focus is nutrition. It is important to Nicole that she achieves this goal in a healthy way as this is not a treatment for an eating disorder."
Treatment: Three days at Beau Monde, a super-tony $80,000-a-month treatment center in Newport Beach, Calif.
Results: After 72 hours, she checked out ... to go shopping, according to Star. (MSNBC)
Pat O'Brien, creepily mustachioed ex-sportscaster and current gossip anchor
Sin: Drunk dialing a woman in Hollywood in 2005 -- later identified as publisher Tony Hoyt's daughter, Betsy -- and leaving a series of increasingly racy voice mails, which quickly found their way to the Internet.
Apology: Before the voice mails leaked, O'Brien got proactive and checked himself into rehab, issuing the following statement: "I have had a problem with alcohol. I have decided to take action by checking myself into an intensive recovery program. Overcoming this problem is a top priority in my life, and I am excited to return to work as soon as I am able." (MethodShop)
Treatment: A few weeks at an unnamed treatment facility.
Results: He returned to work on "The Insider" as soon as he checked out. A few weeks ago, though, there were reports that Paramount has decided not to renew his contract for the show when his current deal finishes.
Ted Haggard, erstwhile church leader/meth-using john
Sin: Last November, Haggard owned up to getting a "massage" from a Denver, Colo., man who claimed Haggard had been paying him for sex for several years. He also admitted to buying methamphetamine, but claimed he just threw it away instead of using it.
Apology: In a letter to his parishioners, Haggard confessed to his own "sexual immorality" and said he was "a deceiver and a liar": "There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life."
Treatment: After resigning from his post as the head of a Colorado Springs megachurch, Haggard embarked on what was described as a three-to-five-year rehabilitation process that would involve lie-detector tests, prayer circles and the laying on of hands.
Results: Check back in the fall of 2009 at the earliest.
Michael Richards, N-word spouting former "Seinfeld" castmate
Sin: In the middle of his stand-up routine at the Laugh Factory last November, the man most of us know as Kramer lost it: As captured on a cellphone camera, Richards when on a long racist tirade against two audience members.
Apology: Bizarrely, Richards appeared via video feed on Letterman, with an introduction by Jerry Seinfeld himself. Tripping over his words as the studio audience, obviously confused, started to laugh, Richards said: "For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry. I'm not a racist. That's whatb
Mark Foley, former congressman (R-FL), instant-message fanatic
Sin: Sending sexually explicit IM and text messages -- sometimes while in the middle of a House vote -- to underage congressional pages.
Apology: In October, David Roth, Foley's defense attorney, issued the following statement: "He is absolutely, positively not a pedophile ... Mark is an alcoholic ... He had two lives with regard to his alcohol consumption ... [He is] contrite, remorseful and devastated by the harm that his actions have caused ... He blames no one but himself."
Treatment: Checked himself into an undisclosed "recovery center" for treatment for alcoholism and mental illness, where he was expected to remain for at least 30 days.
Result: Foley has since stayed out of the public eye, but rehab seems to have worked -- he hasn't formally been charged with anything, but the FBI this week took heat for the way it handled investigating his e-mails.
James Frey, "memoirist" and one-time Oprah book-club darling
Sin: Fictionalizing huge swaths of "A Million Little Pieces," his bestselling memoir of addiction -- and then, even after the Smoking Gun had exposed him, going on Larry King Live to maintain his lies.
Apology: In a squirm-inducing "Oprah" appearance, Frey spun his misdeeds this way: "I think part of what happened with a number of things in the book is when you go through an experience like the one I went through, you develop different coping mechanisms, and I think one of the coping mechanisms I developed was sort of this image of myself that was probably greater than -- not probably, it was greater than I actually was." He later expanded that theme into a 900-plus-word letter of apology to his readers, which will now appear in every newly published copy of "AMLP."
Treatment: Can't go back for more "treatment" -- no one hates full-of-shit addicts like legitimate addicts!
Result: According to the terms of a lawsuit settlement reached with 12 angry readers, Frey and his publisher, Random House, agreed to pay $2.35 million -- to "cover the cost of refunding customers, the lawyers' fees for both sides and a yet-to-be-specified donation to charity." Non-litigious readers are also eligible for a refund: Send Page 163 of the hardcover to Random House and you'll get a check for $23.95; send the front cover of the paperback and you'll receive $14.95. (Jossip)
Rep. Bob Ney, former congressman (R-Ohio), golfer, gambler, current inmate
Sin: Accepted tens of thousands of dollars' worth of bribes -- including golf trips to St. Andrew's, Scotland, campaign contributions, gambling chips, luxury meals and travel arrangements, and sports tickets -- from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Apology: "I have made serious mistakes and am sorry for them. I am very sorry for the pain I have caused to my family, my constituents in Ohio and my colleagues ... I have gone through a great deal of soul searching recently, and I have come to recognize that a dependence on alcohol has been a problem for me ... I am hopeful that with counseling, time and the support of my family and friends, I will be able to deal with my dependency ... Over the years, I have worked to help others, but now I am the one that needs help." (National Journal)
Treatment: Drug and alcohol rehab (see below).
Result: On Jan. 20, 2007, U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle sentenced Ney to 2.5 years in prison, to be served in a treatment program for drug and alcohol abuse at a federal prison in Morgantown, W. Va.