Today though, I am veering off into another area of interest…back to the world of television.
Over the past month or so, its been difficult, if not impossible, to watch TV and/or read any newspaper, magazine or internet post without having a sense of Charlie Sheen’s latest “antics”…and that’s putting it mildly.
Born Carlos Irwin Estevez in 1965, the son of Martin Sheen, Charlie was one of the original members of the “Brat Pack” who has made a great living over the years in film and then TV.
In his most memorable feature film roles, you had to love him in “Major League”….where he played the role of Indians closer Ricky Vaughn…aka Wild Thing….on their purely fictional rise to the American League Championship (some day!!!!!), and later despised him as the greedy Bud Fox in Wall Street when he exulted “Blue Star’s in play!” as well as other golden lines and deeds.
Like many successful actors, he has extended and enhanced his visibility and acting career by transforming himself from features into a reliable TV comedy actor with a variety of successful roles over the years. If you think hard, you probably recall that he very ably replaced comedy icon Michael J. Fox in ABC’s sitcom “Spin City”, produced by Dreamworks TV, for the series’ final two seasons in 2001 and ’02. Hand selected by Fox to take a lead role in the series, Sheen had come out of rehab to actually surprise critics with his work, earning a Golden Globe in 2002 for Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy.
That work set the stage for his co-leading role as Charlie Harper, loosely based on his real life bad boy image, in “Two and Half Men”. The show, produced and financed by Warner Bros. studios, premiered on CBS in 2003 in the coveted Monday 9:30 pm time slot following comedy hit “Everybody Loves Raymond”, helping maintain the network’s lead position as a Monday night comedy destination.
Of course, successful tv shows are a team game and Sheen can’t be credited with these results alone….smart and talented producers, a generous studio to front the cash, network program team that commits to a series, nurtures it and promotes it smartly and heavily…and on and on. But undeniably, he did get much of the acclaim as Sheen’s role became the lead character, the show itself became the top rated comedy on television, leading Sheen to demand and earn a reported $1.8 million per episode (times 24 episodes PER YEAR folks), for leading CBS’ comedy revival.
Interestingly, outside of some technical categories, neither the show itself, nor Sheen, has won an Emmy Award in the comedy genre. Hooray for the TV Academy….they got this one right. To me, this show is the lowest form of comedy….non-stop extremely obvious sex jokes and drug and alcohol references delivered at machine gun pace. The show is morally reprehensible, to me, and I think it fitting that all those involved, right up to the top, should be forced to actually live the lifestyle they glamorize every week…..or at the very least, force their kids to watch and absorb the life lessons now shown in each episode, both on CBS primetime and again in syndication, usually at 7:00 pm, around the country.
Want a taste of what these two media behemoths are promoting? Well, take at look at how their $43.2 million dollar a year “star” Sheen has lived his life over the last two decades and remember, the show itself is “loosely based on the actor’s real life” according to critics……
In 1990, Sheen accidentally shot his then-fiancee, Kelly Preston, in the arm, after which she ended the relationship. Sheen dated former pornographic actress Ginger Lynn for two years starting in 1990. He was also involved for a time with former pornographic actress Heather Hunter. In 1995, Sheen married for the first time and was named as one of many clients who visited brothels owned by Heide Fleiss in her court case that same year.
On May 20, 1998, Sheen tried injecting cocaine, accidentally giving himself an overdose. He was hospitalized, but discharged from the hospital soon afterward. His father Martin issued a public appeal for fans to pray for him and reported him for violating his parole. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and Sheen was sent to rehab.
On June 15, 2002, he married actress Denise Richards, who filed for divorce in 2005, accusing Sheen of abusing drugs and alcohol and threatening Richards with violence.
Sounds like a real stand-up guy, huh? Hold on…..
On May 30, 2008, Sheen married Brooke Mueller, a real estate investor. On Christmas Day, 2009, Sheen was arrested on charges of domestic violence, including second-degree assault and menacing, against Mueller. Sheen eventually plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and was “sentenced to 30 days in a rehabilitation center” and other penalties. That marriage ended in 2010.
In February 2010, Sheen announced that he would take a break from “Two and a Half Men” to voluntarily enter a rehab facility. Production on the series shut down and one month later, Sheen left rehab and returned to work on the popular sitcom. On May 18, 2010, Sheen signed an agreement to return to the sitcom for another two years for a reported $1.8 million per episode.
But wait, there’s MORE!!!!!
On October 26, 2010, the police removed Sheen from his suite at the Plaza Hotel after he had reportedly caused $7,000 in damage. According to the NYPD, Sheen admitted to having been drinking and taking cocaine, was taken to a hospital for observation and released.
Most recently, on January 27, 2011, Sheen was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center by paramedics because the actor was suffering from “severe abdominal pains”. A day later, and for the third time on record, Sheen began undergoing a substance rehabilitation program, this time defiantly in his own home. CBS and production studio Warner Bros. announced that “Two and a Half Men” would go into hiatus immediately thereafter.
When the hiatus was announced, CBS had two original episodes left to air, scheduling them for February 7 and 14. How fitting…the title of the Feb 7 episode…..”Three Hookers and a Philly Cheesesteak” just about sums this series up….
If you are wondering why CBS and Warner Bros. would allow Charlie Sheen to earn $43.2 million dollars, per season (really about 8 months work)….its pretty simple. They were both making even MORE money. If you are interested in the details, click this link to the Hollywood Reporter….. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/two-men-shutdown-cost-cbs-94529 ….to fully understand what the studio and network earn for this filth. The shorthand version…CBS gets about $3.0 million a week in direct ad support, an anchor for their other Monday comedies and a powerhouse lead-in vehicle to drive viewership (and more ad revenue) to their new 9:30 comedy “Mike and Molly”, another Warner Bros. series. Just for the record, the last beneficiary of the “Two and a Half” lead in was…you got it…. another Warner Bros. produced comedy, “The Big Bang Theory”, which moved to anchor CBS’ Thursday night schedule this past fall. “Big Bang” has been a cash cow for Warners, having sold for $2.0 million per episode last May to TBS and the FOX station group for a syndicated run beginning this fall. With 77 episodes produced through this season, that’s some serious cash.
For Warners…”Two and a Half” earns roughly $2 billion in syndication revenue through 2021. Currently in its 8th season of production, the cancellation of season 9 would cost Warners an estimated $250 million on the back-end. Its pretty simple……keep that show running.
And there in lies the dilemma……with so much money at stake, what do CBS and Warner Bros. do? Their star Sheen is an adult, capable of making his own decisions on how he lives his life. If that means eventually killing himself on a binge of drugs, alcohol and hookers….well, that’s his choice. ‘What can we do,” they say, “Charlie shows up on time for every shoot and we never have any problems on the set.” So they shoot more episodes and rake in the big cash while they can. In their minds, I’ll bet they rationalize their actions as such…. “We’ve gone on hiatus and have pleaded with him to clean up his life. If he OD’s, gets AIDs, drinks himself into a coma….well, he’s a big boy and who are we to apply any real pressure to get him to stop? Oh, and by the way, how’s my bonus looking this year?”
Sheen has been very vocal about all the attention his latest round of addiction and rehab have attained. Yesterday he released some pretty scathing comments, via his editorial mouthpiece of sorts TMZ (of all things) and the syndicated radio “Alex Jones Show” (nope, never heard of him or it either) directed at show creator Chuck Lorre, Thomas Jefferson and Alcohlics Anonymous.
And that proved to be too much for our corporate kingpins…..as late yesterday, CBS and Warner Bros., in a joint statement, said “Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of ‘Two and a Half Men’ for the remainder of the season,” the statement read in full. Meaning the final four episodes this season…..but nothing said at all about the contracted 9th season coming up…the one that will cost Warners an estimated $250 million in syndie dough and CBS $155 million in ad revenue.
I guess, in the end, the Hollywood geniuses at Warners and CBS think its ok to marry and divorce at will, get arrested more than once for violent behavior…either threatening physical abuse or actually doing it to his last two wives…live a public life of drugs, alcohol and hookers and then publicize and glamorize that lifestyle by playing a character on tv that seemingly lives the same way while getting paid a fortune to do it…….as long as they make money for it. And when Sheen’s life ends because of his out-of-control antics, you know these executives will be at the service, with their sad looks and dark suits, mourning his loss, after buying full page ads in Variety and the like expressing their sorrow.
But…..mock the brains behind the show, call Lorre a “p###y prick and a stupid, stupid man”, challenge him to a fight in the Octagon, ridicule his role in the show’s success…..well, that’s just over the line….and cancelling the rest of the season with an implied threat to cancel the whole series is totally justified.
You know what I think….these people all deserve each other…that not one of them is any different from the rest. Their mothers, spouses and children must be so proud and it begs the question, When is enough really enough?