Charlie Sheen: The PR Nightmare

Unfortunately for CBS and the executives at Warner Bros. Television, Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen can’t seem to keep his mouth shut.

Rumors have been circulating regarding growing tensions between Men producer Chuck Lorre and Sheen on the Men set. This month, it reached its boiling point. Lorre, whose credits also include The Big Bang Theory and Dharma & Greg, ends each of his shows with a signature “vanity card” that is displayed briefly (about two seconds) after each episode. Lorre uses the cards as a short reflection, but he directed a card’s message toward Sheen in January and again in February:

Sheen has drawn plenty of recent media attention since his meltdown last October, when he was hospitalized after an alleged night of rough partying and heavy drinking in a New York hotel room with a porn star. Gossip site TMZ broke the story. People in the entertainment industry have since made note of Sheen’s reckless party-boy imagine, as recently as the Golden Globe Awards, where Ricky Gervais made a quip about the star: “It’s going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast.”

The last couple of days saw an explosion from the actor. Thursday, he appeared on a syndicated radio show with host Alex Jones, where he went off about showrunner Lorre. According to Deadline Hollywood, an insider claims that Sheen has had problems with Lorre for years, but that “Now, with all the drugs, he has has no filter and speaks what’s on his mind.”

CBS has announced they have shut down production on Men for the rest of the season, and Sheen will not get paid for the remaining four episodes. That’s bad news for Sheen, but devastating for the rest of the crew who are paid far less than $1.2 million an episode.

Shutting down production of Men was CBS and Warner Bros. response to Sheen’s outburst, and it’s a drastic one, as Men remains one of CBS’ highest rated shows. The written statement they’ve issued is as follows:

“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.”

Lorre and Sheen remain gripped in battle. Latest developments from TMZ say Sheen wants $10 million for a tell-all memoir of happenings on set. Lorre seems content to remain quiet in hopes that Sheen will eventually shut up. Who is the biggest loser in this crisis? It doesn’t appear as though Sheen has any representation to offer public image control (though it seems like he isn’t interested in that at all based on his behavior). Does CBS as a brand suffer from the warring words of the creative powers that fuel one of their biggest hits? It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, as it is still unfolding.

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4 Responses to Charlie Sheen: The PR Nightmare

  1. afleisha says:

    CBS has retained their image quite well since October when Sheen first acted out. The decision to cancel the rest of the season due to Sheen’s issues places the network in a positive public image, as it seems the practical, responsible approach. It’s impressive that CBS has taken the “high road” in dealing with Sheen’s allegations about issues on set–they haven’t stooped down to a “he said, she said” battle that is typical in these situations. It will be interesting to see the long-term effects of the networks’ approach, especially if the show is re-introduced next season.

  2. nkumarat says:

    I think that Charlie Sheen’s behavior is all on him. I don’t think that CBS should be associated with what he does in his personal life. Of course, some people will have a different opinion. For example, when Britney Spears’ little sister, Jamie Lynn, got pregnant at 16 while she was still employed with the children’s TV network Nickelodeon, she was let go because of the image she would portray to youngsters. I do agree with Nickelodeon’s decision in Jamie Lynn’s situation, but Sheen is an adult and I don’t think it was necessary to discontinue production, especially if it is CBS’ highest rated show. I do think it would be appropriate to let Sheen go if his work ethic has changed due to his partying lifestyle.

  3. mgingeri says:

    I think that CBS did the right thing by discontinuing the show for the remainder of the season. I don’t think that CBS will suffer as a brand from this, if they chose to continue the show, then that would be a different story. Sheen is obviously going through some sort of mental breakdown and is using the media to exploit his crazy behavior. In my opinion CBS had no other choice; Sheen has been going on about explicit drug use and dates with porn stars, that is unacceptable for a news station to be associated with.

  4. hewhite says:

    In my opinion, Sheen’s bad behavior and reputation don’t reflect back onto CBS … right now, at least. HOW the star acts is out of CBS’ control, but how CBS responds (to give correction, discipline, or lack thereof) WILL determine the type of publicity CBS receives (or if the brand suffers). The public and media WILL frown upon CBS if they don’t handle the situation properly. I’m interested to see if there are any changes made to contracts after this season of Men ends.

    As for Sheen, I’m hesitant to say he’s dug his grave. Well actually, he HAS dug his grave, but whether he ends up lying in it is the true question. I can’t help but think of Robert Downey, Jr. and how his fame took a turn for the better after years of a damaged reputation.

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