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An adolescent prank?
In hindsight, Kenyon sees that incident as a preamble to his tale of addiction, an eye-opening story of his journey from up-and-coming West Coast entertainment reporter to jobless bar-hopper in Prescott.
The final chapter has yet to be written, but Kenyon today is again on top as a revered New York City television reporter.
“I’ve not had a single drop of alcohol, or a mind-altering chemical, one day at a time, for 24 years,” said Kenyon, 59, who will be the moderator of this weekend’s Success to Win Film Festival at the Elks Theatre that will focus on addiction, treatment and sober living and how that impacts a community known for its recovery programs. “Everything I have today was built in Prescott.”
“I was a person who needed recovery in Prescott, and I am a person who found recovery in Prescott, and a person who found a way back to my career in Prescott … It is a home to me,” said Kenyon, who met his author wife Elizabeth Goudge through his radio talk show in Prescott.
A Princeton University graduate, Kenyon’s drinking escalated in college and continued over the next decade as he started to build a lucrative television news career, with a fledgling CNN hiring him in 1980 as the first producer for news anchor Bernard Shaw in the Washington, D.C. bureau. Kenyon’s first two years were spent covering President Ronald Reagan’s administration before he was promoted to be the station’s entertainment reporter in Los Angeles. He hosted what was called the Hollywood minute. In the course of his entire television news career, Kenyon has likely interviewed just about any known celebrity, including such legends as Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor as well as such modern day stars as comedian Eddie Murphy and Academy Award winners Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
In 1987, though, Kenyon’s drinking, something he knew was a growing problem for six years, escalated when he was covering the 10th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death and was arrested for driving while under the influence. That prompted him to try the first of three treatment programs, two in Los Angeles and one near Tucson, at a cost of some $100,000.
Yet Kenyon was still not ready to get sober.