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Charlie Sheen, 'In His Own Words' - And, on ABC, With His Own Rope
March 1, 2011  | By David Bianculli

Hollywood's latest loose-cannon, volatile celebrity is the subject of tonight's hastily and eagerly scheduled ABC 20/20 special (10 pm. ET), titled Charlie Sheen: In His Own Words. ABC may as well have called it Charlie Sheen: With His Own Rope, because, based on excerpts aired already on Good Morning America, the star of Two and a Half Men hangs himself with almost every new, rambling, often frightening utterance.


In this new hour-long interview with ABC's Andrea Canning, he sounds less like actor Charlie Sheen than inmate Charlie Manson...

Monday morning at 7 a.m. ET, as GMA opened on the East Coast, the network that had televised the Oscars the night before opted to lead its morning news show not with a celebration of Hollywood's best and best-behaved and most glamorous, but with a lengthy taste of this exclusive visit with one of Hollywood's most excessive current misbehavers.

It's a perfect distillation of what's happening right now with so much of television across the board. Why celebrate and support the best when it's so much easier, and often more lucrative, to present and exploit the worst. Why present real drama when you can crank out Real Housewives? Why bother writing and directing Boardwalk Empire, when Jersey Shore basically writes itself?

ABC was so eager to push the Sheen interview, and push back its own next-day Oscar coverage, that the initial lower-third superimposed subject title was misspelled. (See photo at the top of this column.) Under the big headline EXCLUSIVE: SHEEN TO SUE CBS came the line quoting Sheen, but with sloppy transcription, that "There gonna lose in a court."

Yeah, and ABC better test there employees for spelling proficiency.

Sheen volunteered to take a drug test as part of this special (not exactly standard procedure for 20/20 interview subjects), and ABC reported yesterday that Sheen tested as clean for 10 specific drugs -- meaning that the tests could detect no usage within the past one to three days (the former for blood tests, the latter for urine).

Clearly, though, no one tested him for guano poisoning, because Charlie Sheen, even in the comments televised on GMA, sounds -- to put in indelicately but accurately -- Batshit Crazy.

Try this on for size:


"I AM on a drug," he tells Canning early on, in an interview taped at his home, when she asks if he's currently on drugs.

"It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available, because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off, and your children will weep over your exploded body."

Then he smiles, exposing his golden tooth (??!!), and asks, "Too much?"

Precisely. Thank you for sharing.

When his father, Martin Sheen, spun into insanity in Apocalypse Now, he was acting -- or, at least, exploring his demons while cameras were rolling. Charlie Sheen, even in just excerpts from this interview, makes it seem like he really does need help, though he's adamantly refusing it.


Just the fact that he smokes during the on-camera interview -- which was okay in Edward R. Murrow's Person to Person days, but is a basic public relations no-no in THIS century -- pegs Sheen as a celebrity displaying equal parts arrogance, rebelliousness and obliviousness. And put his remarks in this interview up against, say, Mel Gibson's answering-machine rants, and so far as Incoherent Ramblings go, it's a dead tie.

CBS pulling the plug on Two And a Half Men, for the rest of the season, makes perfect sense. And make sure to watch series creator Chuck Lorre's vanity card at the end of one of his other CBS series, Thursday's The Big Bang Theory, in case he wants to take the late-breaking opportunity to weigh in.

Each week, Lorre writes a new vanity card that viewers can read by freeze-framing the image. The most recent first-run episode of Men ended with Lorre describing how much care he took these days to eat well and exercise and avoid drugs and alcohol, and adding that, "If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really pissed."

Professionally, Sheen may not outlive him. If Sheen's father, brother and loved ones can't convince Charlie Sheen that he's not nearly as amazing and in control as he thinks he is, even TV's highest-paid star (which, in this case, I've never understood) can't be coddled indefinitely.

But even if Charlie Sheen doesn't get help and restore himself emotionally, he does have a future in TV. Not acting. Just acting badly.

Tuesday's 20/20 is bound to get huge ratings. And if Sheen ever wants to support his lifestyle and his hangers-on without the Men money from CBS, he can always sign on with E!, MTV, VH1, WE or another bottom-feeding cable network to star in his own reality show.

Hell, set him up in a Malibu beach house with Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson, and let the fun begin.

You could even call the show Two and a Half Brains.

But that might be overly generous...



Groddeck said:

In your 8th paragraph you write "Martin Sheen", but I think you meant "Charlie Sheen".

[I did, and have corrected accordingly. Thanks. -- DB]

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 9:18 AM

Sarah Webber said:

And what about Detroit 1-8-7? Pre-empted again. If I want to watch a train wreck, I'm sure I can find one on YouTube. Yuk. What a colossal waste of money.

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 9:29 AM

Julie said:

I think you've confused your Sheens:
"Clearly, though, no one tested him for guano poisoning, because Martin Sheen, even in the comments televised on GMA, sounds -- to put in indelicately but accurately -- Batshit Crazy."

I think you mean Charlie is batshit crazy, not his father Martin.

[Hmm. Guano might be contagious. Sorry. -- DB]

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 9:57 AM

Erin said:

"Clearly, though, no one tested him for guano poisoning, because Martin Sheen, even in the comments televised on GMA, sounds -- to put in indelicately but accurately -- Batshit Crazy."

Though Martin might be batshit crazy, too, I think in this instance you meant Charlie.

[I did, and have corrected. And stand corrected, too. Sorry. -- DB]

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 10:23 AM

Noel Holston said:

Loved the "Two and a Half Brains" quip, Dave (and the show idea).
And speaking of Charlie S., I think Barbara Walters should cobble together an hour in which she interviews Sheen, Jon Hamm and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Call it the special "Mad Men" edition.

[What we wily TV-critic veterans throw out as sarcasm, I hear young TV executives take as valid Suggestion Box items. "Say, a "Mad Men" hour! Brilliant!" -- DB]

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 11:09 AM

Eileen said:

It's just pathetic to see someone who once had so much talent just blowing it all away. I feel badly for his children and his parents. In the past, as he continues to this day, Martin Sheen has been nothing but supportive of Charlie; back in the 90s he had custody of him, if I recall correctly.

Whatever your feelings for Martin Sheen, he's always been a role model, generous to causes he believed in and supported, and an outstanding actor. We've never seen him act out, and he's been married to his wife, Janet, for years. Clearly Charlie needs to emulate dad. Although in some of his rants he's actually criticized him. I'm from a family of six children, and my mother always said of crazy children, "Every large family has at least one..."

Instead of televising Charlie's antics, someone should be getting him the psychiatric help he so clearly needs. It's appalling that the tv networks would cash in on an obviously sick human being. This is the type of interview I would expect from TMZ, MTV or VH1, but clearly not ABC or NBC. They should be ashamed of themselves.

It's just all very sad, and I certainly don't see a happy ending anywhere in the near future. What a waste...

[Couldn't agree with you more, Eileen. -- DB]

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 11:34 AM

Shorecrat said:

In a blog correctly taking ABC to task for incorrect spelling that would not be picked up by spellcheck, he fails to note his own two clear mistakes:

'Clearly, though, no one tested him for guano poisoning, because MARTIN Sheen, even in the comments televised on GMA, sounds -- to put in indelicately but accurately -- Batshit Crazy.'

'CBS pulling the plug on Two And a Half Men, for the rest of the REASON, makes perfect sense...'

[You're absolutely right, and I'm absolutely wrong. Diane Werts, who yells at me daily for missing my own mistakes, had nothing to do with this. It's mea culpa, and I'm correcting them accordingly. Thanks for pointing out the errors, truly. My only defense is that a major broadcast network should have more of a safety net than a home-grown website, but that's not much of a defense. -- DB]


Comment posted on March 1, 2011 12:04 PM

Christina S said:

I agree completely with Eileen. It is so obvious that Charlie Sheen is suffering from what looks like a manic state of bipolar disorder that I feel the TV networks are being completely voyeuristic in putting him on the air. The man clearly needs help. I guess the networks' greed to cash in on the public need to watch a trainwreck is too tempting for them. Well, count me out. I choose not to watch. I just hope someone can get Charlie help - and soon!

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 3:04 PM

Rich said:

This all makes that cameo in "Ferris Bueller" (1986) where he's busted for drugs even creepier. Stranger still, he's sitting next to future "Dancing with the stars" winner Jennifer Grey.

I'd like to solve another puzzle!! about a year (Year & 1/2?) ago you had as your "Best Bets" on a monday 5 choices. They included: "House", "Heroes", The Last original CNN anchor retiring, Bill O'Reilly (#1 guy at Fox News) interviewing the CNN guy, and "Two & Half Men". My quirky comment was that it was a "Night full of Geniuses" (People of expertise in their fields).

You jested at my comment to which I had to explain that you missed the joke, that I had left out "Charlie Sheen" as to say, "What is he the Genius of?"...I'd like to solve the Puzzle. The Answer: Charlie Sheen! Good thing he didn't come back for the "Wall Street 2" sequel - that would've been a disaster!!.

Don't worry -- in 5 to 10 years Shia LaBeouf will win the Oscar for playing "Charlie Sheen" in a movie about the actor's life called "The Apathy & the Ecstasy of Charlie Sheen".

Comment posted on March 1, 2011 7:28 PM
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