Quit the Chaos, Keep the Gig: Q&A with Salli Frattini

Featuring insightful and eye-opening interviews with artists, managers, songwriters, executive producers, and more, “Quit the Chaos. Keep the Gig,” is a new Evo series that takes a look at how substance use affects everyone in the music & entertainment industry.
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With over three decades of industry experience under her belt, executive producer and head of Sunset Lane Entertainment Salli Frattini has overseen dozens of scripted and unscripted series, as well as sports and entertainment events. She was the first woman to executive produce a Super Bowl half-time show and her unmatched credits include the MTV Video Music Awards and YouTube Creator Summit.

Salli discusses how when substances come into the picture on her sets, she tries to take an empathetic approach and work with her crew to foster a supportive environment. 

What's been your experience with people struggling with substance use in the entertainment business?

Salli: I’ve come across quite a few crew members who have struggled with various substances–heroin, cocaine, weed, alcohol. When it’s affected our professionalism, I’ve had to make tough calls. I want to support everyone I work with and I want to be understanding, but they are hired to do a job.

My first reaction is to try and help the person as much as possible. If they aren’t helping themselves then what can I do? But if they are honest with me and tell me that they are in a program and that sometimes they will need to get away for a meeting, then I can plan for that and I support that. I can always accommodate people who are in some sort of program, regardless of where they are in their sobriety.

What’s difficult for me is “first time” addicts; I don’t know how to support them because they don’t know how to support themselves. I worked on a popular reality show and when we shot in a bar, they said we can’t have alcohol because there were certain cast members who were sober. So we made a decision not to serve liquor to the crowd or at all in the bar. Because we knew about it, we were able to accommodate and work around addiction issues and triggers.

I mean, if someone’s on a vegan diet, don’t put ribs in the green room!

As an executive producer, what can you do to help keep things moving when someone is struggling?

Salli: I have personally delivered gallons and gallons of water to hydrate people. I have assigned production assistants to artists whose only responsibility was to watch them and make them drink coffee. I’ve told managers, “If you don’t get your client together then we’re done.” I always start with the human approach but at the end of the day it’s business.

It has to be so overwhelming to know you need help and have no idea how to get it. Having places and resources such as Evo can help people because it’s convenient for their lifestyle. But it needs to be right in front of them.

What kinds of resources do you think would help?

Salli: Group meetings are important for people who are in the program and if we had Skype meetings that we could tell musicians and artists about as far as professional help goes, that would be amazing. Or if we could refer them to someone at Evo who can relate to what the reality is that people in the music and entertainment industries are facing, that would be so helpful.It helps to have other people who understand what we go through from eating Cheetos at 2 a.m., working 4 days straight and drinking a glass of wine in our hotel room to fall asleep.

What’s the best advice you can give to people who may end up your position?

Salli: The more you can offer alternative methods and education for everyone involved the better – because it could be a chemical imbalance, substance abuse or a lack of water. The older I get – and this is my approach with my children as well – is instilling the importance of honesty and transparency. Trust me enough to tell me the truth and I will be able to handle anything.

Learn more about Salli Frattini.

Ron Roecker is an award-winning writer, as well as music/entertainment and brand marketing expert. His career includes Vice President of Communications & Artist Relations for the GRAMMY Awards, as well as a music/entertainment spokesperson for brands and media outlets including Nestle, Live Earth, Mattel, CNN, MTV, Entertainment Tonight, BBC, Today Show, Rolling Stone and more. Ron is a keynote speaker who talks about business lessons from Hollywood to Public Speaking and Crisis Management. For more information, visit www.bedifferently.com.

Evo Health and Wellness  is an outpatient addiction treatment program that respects where you are and where you want to go. Clients set goals that work for them, whether they include complete abstinence or moderation. Evo sees success as lasting change in the client’s life, including physical health, movement towards personal goals, and their sense of connection and purpose. Evo’s program integrates psychotherapy, psychiatry, life coaching and somatic therapy. Learn more about why Evo works for Entertainment professionals.