Sunday, January 24, 2010

TV Anchorwoman Admits Drinking Problem

Chicago Sun-Times



Veteran WGN-Channel 9 anchor Allison Payne is publicly acknowledging a 20-year battle with alcohol addiction, but she says that's not what kept her off the air for part of 2008.

During a live interview Thursday with former Blackhawks star Theo Fleury, Payne mentioned that she and Fleury shared an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.

On Friday, she told the Chicago Tribune, which is owned by the same parent company as WGN, that she mentioned her now late sponsor to let go "of some of my shame that I've held on to."

"There is no shame in all of this. That's why I was so happy to talk to Theo," Payne told the Tribune. "Because he was coming clean and he was letting go of his shame. In saying to Theo that [this person] was my sponsor too, I was letting go of some of my shame that I've held on to."

Payne, 45, has said on-air instances of slurred speech and occasionally erratic behavior stemmed from a series of mini-strokes. On Friday, she said those on-air problems were not from drinking.

"No way I was drunk on the air," she told the Tribune.

And she said her prolonged absences from newcasts in 2008 were tied to the mini-strokes, not drinking.

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