Feb 24, 2011

What’s That Grimy Sheen on Your TV?

     Wealth and fame are wasted on the wrong people.  I understand that for some people, addiction to drugs and alcohol (and whores?) is a disease.  But there comes a point when you stop caring about that and are just ready to see a major league asshole get what he deserves. 

     I am referring, of course, to Charlie Sheen, the spoiled hot shot of an actor on charlie-sheen-mugshotCBS’s hit show, Two and a Half Men. I’ve said here before that even though it is the most popular comedy on TV, I’m not a fan; I’ve just never found it all that funny.  I’ve watch 15 or 20 episodes over the years, and never felt the need to record it or make time to watch it every week.  Of course, I pay enough attention to know that it doesn’t take much for Sheen to get into the “hedonistic jingle writer (with a) free-wheeling life” character of Charlie Harper. Sheen has been into rehab almost as often as I’ve been into Baskin-Robbins. But, as the producers say, he shows up and he does his job. And the show gets huge numbers, so much so that Sheen was rewarded with a $2 million per episode contract. Then he goes on a drug fueled, whore-accompanied rated-X frenzy that leads him to rehab and the production of his show shut down. As of today, the show is shut down for the rest of the season.  Charlie will be OK, he’s got tons of money and can go make movies. His co-stars will be OK too, they make a good living.

     Who won’t be OK are the people who work behind the scenes to make Charlie look good, sound good, say funny things, have lunch to eat, have a clean toilet to do Coke on, and more. It takes a platoon of as many as 300 people to produce a show like this. Most of the folks are trade people who do not have salaries or contracts; they are considered freelance workers.  Many of them are industry vets and will be able to find other gigs, but there is nothing like the job security of working on a hit show and knowing that you’ve got work ahead of you. I can’t imagine how it must be to have your livelihood resting on the shoulders of an immature rich douche bag who is more interested in renting a woman for the night than whether his make-up woman can pay her rent by the due date.

     Maybe I don’t know the demons Sheen fights. Maybe I don’t know how difficult it can be to grow up in the shadow of a great actor like Martin Sheen, to have popular and critical success at an early age, to have some of the worlds most beautiful women throwing themselves at you. Maybe if someone was paying me two million dollars a week and I only had to work 24 weeks a year, I’d be so miserable that I had to drink and snort myself into a constant string of scandals. I get it, the guy likes to par-tay, but he is not beyond the law and his actions impact more than just himself, his numerous exes and children and the revenue of a major broadcast network. His immature narcissism is taking food and security away from people who have spent years making him a star.

     I can’t imagine his father is proud of him, I can’t imagine he has many people left that he could call real friends. Certainly, no one seems to be talking to him frankly about his issues.  If the first step in recovery is in admitting that you have a problem, and given that Sheen called AA a “cult,” and given that every time he goes on a bender, his ratings go up, I suspect his behavior will not change. While you can hope something will push him into a realization that his lifestyle is destructive to himself and others, leading him out of the darkness to a Robert Downey, Jr. phoenix-phase of his career, it seems so much more likely that he will keep up the chase, burn up, crack up and otherwise end up as another Hollywood tragedy of wasted talent.

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