Did Charlie Sheen hire Rod Blagojevich’s media handler? Over the past week, as you’re well aware, Sheen self-immolated, lambasting CBS and Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre for putting his sitcom on hiatus for the actor to get control of his bizarre behavior (the latest in a long series that included drug abuse and domestic-violence charges), and lashing out with a series of aggressive, obnoxious and baroquely unhinged statements.
Somewhere in all this, Sheen—like the former Illinois governor and reality-show star who went on a deluded media tour after his own scandal—appears to have gotten the idea that the more people hear him, the more they like him. So this morning he was on both NBC’s Today Show and ABC’s Good Morning America, declaring himself a “rock star from Mars” with “tiger blood and Adonis DNA.”
What did we learn, or “learn,” about Sheen? That he’s planning to sue CBS for breach of contract. That not only does he not apologize, he expects the network to apologize to him, “publicly, while licking my feet,” and bump him up to $3 million an episode. [Note: The sitcom is produced by Warner Brothers, which like TIME is a unit of Time Warner.] That he cured himself of his addictions with his mind, at his home, which he calls “Sober Valley Lodge.” That he didn’t abuse women, but that he can’t give the exculpatory details—not for his sake, but to protect them.
Obviously we have to take these claims skeptically, like Sheen’s earlier announcement that he was going to make an HBO series that the cable network later said did not exist. What’s more interesting, in a way, is whether all this seems to be true in Sheen’s own head. Defending himself fervently and with bug-eyed intensity, Sheen recalled someone under the influence not so much of drugs but of a religion that he invented himself—some Hollywood religion of warlocks and mental discipline whose highest tenet is winning. He spoke with the zeal, defensiveness and contempt for nonbelievers of a devout cult member, the cult, in this case, being himself.
Sheen’s problems may be psychological, pharmaceutical, moral—but above all, he’s a poster boy for that most dangerous and common of celebrity intoxicants, entitlement. He was “tired of pretending I’m not special,” he said. He had decided to embrace his “rock star life,” and while he claimed to be clean now, he was proud of his epic run of partying: “I exposed people to magic.” Was that drug lifestyle dangerous? Oh sure—for “normal” people. For losers. Overdosing, he said, “is for amateurs.”
Where could he have gotten that sense of entitlement from? Oh, maybe from being essentially celebrated for the same lifestyle that brought him down. From being a notorious playboy paid a couple million an episode to play a notorious playboy, named Charlie, on TV. For continuing to stay thus employed even after abuse complaints, rampages and an assault plea—things that might get you fired if you were a normal person, a loser, an amateur.
But for all of that there’s a sad sense of overcompensating in Sheen’s bragging. “I won Best Picture at 20,” he said. “Wasn’t even trying.” (For the record, he was in Platoon; the movie won Best Picture, actors do not.) All the glory-days references, the Top Gun and F-18 imagery—there’s this sense of Sheen as the guy who was once almost Tom Cruise, then wasn’t.
And yet here was ABC’s Andrea Canning wheedling Sheen on-air, saying that his polyamorous setup with The Goddesses “works for them” and telling him “you seem like a nice guy.” Seriously? Look: I have no idea exactly what drugs Sheen has taken and how recently (according to him, he “can’t remember” the last time), and I don’t know the minutiae of what happened behind closed doors to those women in Aspen and New York. But “nice guy”? It takes about 30 seconds of hearing the snickering way this overindulged zillionaire brags about “duh, winning” to know with 100% certainty that he is a class-A tool.
But Sheen was a big get, and you gotta do what you gotta do to get that get got. The whole ugly story had become yet another TV product to cash in on. ABC grandly announced its interview get yesterday and planned to spread the Q&A out over two mornings of GMA and a special Tuesday edition of 20/20. Hours later, NBC declared that it had bagged its own interview with Sheen in Beverly Hills, proving that Charlie Sheen—Vatican assassin that he is—is even capable of screwing over networks that he doesn’t work for.
ABC went ahead with its airing plan, accented with the stunt of having Sheen take a blood-and-urine drug test and announcing the results live on air. The test reportedly indicated that Sheen had been clean for 72 hours, seeming to back up his declaration that “I’m on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen.”
We’re very familiar with that drug by now. And I think at this point we’ve all OD’ed on it.