TV REVIEW : ’20/20' Takes a Look at Palisades High School

“60 Minutes” already has done a segment on alcohol and drug abuse among teen-agers in Pacific Palisades. Now comes ABC’s “20/20" with a somewhat controversial version at 10 tonight on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42.

The Palisades has been shaken by an unusual number of teen fatalities related to drugs or alcohol. In researching the “20/20" story, producer Joe Lovett and his crew angered Palisades High School psychologist Linda Swimmer-Levine by filming at--but not trying to stop--a party on a perilous bluff where drugs and alcohol were in use. School officials had alerted police to the party, but no police showed up.

“20/20" uses brief footage from the party to demonstrate the prevalence and easy accessibility of drugs and alcohol among Palisades teen-agers, blaming much of it on affluent parents who are inattentive or too submissive.

Reported by Stone Phillips, the segment is basically positive, however, finding hope in community-encouraged therapy groups that help children and their parents better understand each other and cope with many of the problems that have brought the Palisades so much grief.


Palisades High School is characterized here as both an institution of high academic performance and high drug and alcohol use. What “20/20" doesn’t ask tonight is how both are possible at the same school.