After a week of Charlie Sheen madly ranting and raving to anyone who would listen (which added up to a substantial crowd), Warner Brothers Television announced Monday afternoon that despite a wildly successful seven and a half seasons, it has terminated the star of "Two and a Half Men
" their top-rated show, "effective immediately
Maybe now he will get medical help.
I've tried to avert my eyes from the train wreck that has become Charlie Sheen's faster-than-a-locomotive life, but a story on the front page of The New York Times
business section on the TV and film industry culture Monday pulled me in. The story, by reporters Brooks Barnes, Bill Carter and Michael Cieply, blames Sheen's many handlers, who have "fed on" his "antics" and allowed the sitcom star to sink deeply into what appears to be a mental illness or a serious addiction. Money doesn't prevent insanity but it helps ameliorate the damage from its symptoms. Sheen got paid $1.8 million dollars per episode for a half-hour weekly comedy playing a slightly more stable version of himself, but without the violence
I make no social judgment against Sheen's personal demons, but I suspect the list of intoxicants he is susceptible to includes power. For citizens of both cities, comparisons between Hollywood and D.C. are common. In every culture there are addictions. Washington's core industry -- politics -- probably has fewer cocaine habits per capita than Hollywood, but I'd bet there are at least as many power addicts. Neither makes for great character building (although power is usually more socially acceptable).
According to the Times
, one film industry contact told a clean and sober Tom Arnold seeking to bring Sheen into "Hollywood's recovery community" that he could not assist Arnold because "we make a lot of money from him. I can't be part of it." The Times also quoted an unnamed source who said that by Hollywood standards, Sheen always hit his marks. Despite his well-documented all-night carousing, the hit show's star was reliably on time to the set. "He might be out until 5 a.m., but he always showed up on call at 7."
Los Angeles-based singer and artist Stew
notes ironically in his 2000 hit tune "Rehab"
that folks "seem to not mind a junkie with a well-paying job
." That's probably because enabling usually pays off. Sheen has resisted getting professional help, recalling, for me, another lyric from Stew: "Once she said, 'Hey listen baby, I ain't gonna lie, there just ain't nothing I like more than getting high.'"
As it turns out, the star of "Two and a Half Men" did not just play the part of Charlie Harper, selfish drunk, on his laugh-track-sugared TV show. He actually is
one. Instead of the successful jingle and children's songwriter Sheen played on CBS's top-rated series -- one who vexes family members (brother, nephew, housekeeper and mother) circling his self-absorbed nucleus -- the real Charlie had and conferred intoxicating movie-land power.
A second-generation Hollywood scion, the son of TV and movie actor Martin Sheen
and the younger brother of "Breakfast Club" star Emilio Estevez
, Sheen's real brother and father have not commented on his most recent tailspin. I'm certain their relative's crack up has been painful. Jokes about Sheen's meltdown have scored laughs on "Saturday Night Live" on NBC
and his demented-sounding interviews have been big audience pleasers at ABC's "Good Morning America"
." Not one to miss an opportunity to exploit his celebrity, Sheen's own Twitter feed
broke land speed records for rubber-necking followers hoping to witness the 45-year-old's inevitable crash landing.
And although an astute observer of social issues
recently reminded us that Hollywood children are cared for by "nannies, and caretakers, and nurses," I can't help thinking his children (including toddler twins) are at emotional and maybe even physical risk from their impaired father's behavior. For them and the rest of his family, friends, colleagues and fans, I wish Sheen the best of luck getting a grip.