Liz Smith: The Trouble with Charlie — Will Rehab Help?

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And more from our Gossip Girl: life is a cabaret for Edie Falco … plus, why cable news can’t let go of Sarah Palin

“NOTHING SUCCEEDS like excess,” said our old friend Oscar Wilde.

Surely this is the motto for the ongoing saga of Charlie Sheen. The “Two and a Half Men” star was rushed to a hospital late last week suffering from severe abdominal pains. He had reportedly been partying for 36 hours with five ladies (at least one of them a porn star) and there was allegedly a “briefcase of cocaine” involved.

Mr. Sheen’s press rep told the online gossip site TMZ — which was on top of the story instantly — that he “chose not to believe” TMZ’s sources. At least one of those sources was one (or more) of the “ladies” involved in Mr. Sheen’s debauch. Or whatever it was. Could have been just a quiet evening at home, watching adult movies. They are all grown ups, after all. (Sheen’s publicist insisted on Friday that the actor is expected back on the set as early as tomorrow. Sheen either has the world’s greatest constitution, or is already dead and nobody has noticed).

CBS, once “the Tiffany of television” programming, finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Mr. Sheen shows up for work, knows his lines (despite how many other lines he’s had the night before) and is professional and pretty well-liked on the set. The show still enjoys high ratings. What to do? The network is increasingly seen as Sheen’s enabler; clearly he has issues. Should he be reprimanded for an out-of-control private life that incredibly does not affect his professional life? This is a difficult call.

But people at the top at CBS have reason to be concerned. If Sheen were to — God forbid — die while in the grip of his partying, or — much worse! — cause injury to another, it would not simply be bad public relations, it could cost the network millions in lawsuits.

And as nice as Charlie is rumored to be (if you’re not married to him) it’s not so nice that he appears to care so little for the fate of his co-stars, who all depend on him on remain alive and functioning, so as to keep their own jobs.

When Charlie can’t or won’t work, nobody gets paid!

* * *

LATE FRIDAY Sheen reportedly entered a rehab facility. His show is on “temporary hiatus.” Good luck to him, and to the rest of the “Two and a Half Men” cast.

* * *

I KNOW I keep citing the new and fabulously revamped Hollywood Reporter, but what can I say — the magazine is chock full of great articles and photographs.

The Feb 2 issue has the cast of “Glee” on the cover. Inside there’s a nifty story on this TV phenom. But the real meat of the issue is an article by Paul Bond titled “Cable News’ Sarah Palin Sickness.” The piece follows the trajectory of Palin’s public career, and how the cable news pundits “just can’t quit her.” This, despite her high disapproval ratings and general un-likeability, even among most Republicans. (Palin’s fan base is fairly small, but rabid — and they inspire fear in the rest of the Republican party, which seems to behave as if it has no sensible alternatives. Unless you want to count Michele Bachmann, the impoverished man’s Palin.) Not surprisingly, Palin’s foes on MSNBC talk about her the most, with Chris Matthews the most virulent. Sarah’s friends at Fox News are close behind. (Greta Van Susteren takes the lead there.)

The author predicts: “It won’t be easy for cable news to break its Sarah Palin habit … the dirty little secret is that Palin has become the go-to topic that requires very little work and no boring background explanations. She is already known by everyone, which is rare in this era.”

The departure of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is cited as perhaps a turning point in Palinmania, but I doubt it. Just the other night Chris Matthews opened his show with a long piece on Palin and Michele Bachmann.

Palin is the Charlie Sheen of cable TV. They can’t let her go. She is too profitable, ratings-wise. Without her, what would they talk about — the issues?  Don’t be silly

* * *

OH, and here are the best photographs in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter — several pages of vintage shots taken by the late lensman Sam Shaw. These include a shirtless, sexy Marlon Brando playing pool … the elfin Audrey Hepburn in Paris, circa 1957 … ravishing portraits of Gena Rowlands and Lee RemickLauren Bacall hugging Swifty Lazar’s bald pate … and Marilyn Monroe — who was Shaw’s good friend — perched on a Central Park bench, wearing a simple white summer dress, reading the New York Times. Sitting near MM is a young New York couple. They do their best to avoid looking at the goddess.

* * *

LIFE IS a cabaret, old friend. Especially in Manhattan, where cabaret is alive and thriving, and always attracting the most interesting people.

On Feb 4-6 at the Laurie Beechman Theater (407 West 42nd Street), the divine Edie Falco of “Sopranos” and “Nurse Jackie” fame will make her cabaret debut, performing with Stephen Wallem (he plays Thor on “Nurse Jackie.”) The show, conceived by Wallem and Falco, is titled “The Other Steve and Edie.” The pair will sing everything from jazz to show tunes to contemporary pop. And yes, Wallem and Falco will even salute the other Steve and Edie. Call 212-695-6909.

Oh, and for fans of “Nurse Jackie” the new season debuts on March 28.

38 Responses so far.

  1. avatar rick gould says:

    Maybe “Two and a Half Men” are pulling a “Weekend at Bernie’s” with Charlie!
    A remake of “The Days of Wine and Roses” with Charlie and Lindsay Lohan. Except the studio will have to superimpose CGI imagery of them for the early, sober scenes!
    Or maybe CBS will finally get fed up with Sheen and fire him when he misses being on the set to sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” in drag to President Obama!
    The absurdities Charlie is allowed make the above seem not so far-fetched. But the jokes and nudges won’t seem so funny later if he goes the Belushi route and then it will be “Goodbye, Charlie.”

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Rick, you show a fine sense of Hollywood history.  However when a certain famous lady went off to the serenade her one or two night stand, Mr. Kennedy, she wasn’t appearing on set in Hollywood.  She wasn’t doing her job.  Mr. Sheen, by some miracle of science or genetics, is showing up.  And had he could have again.  I feel Miss Smith correct—CBS was being seen as an irresponsible enabler.  That’s why he was nudged into rehab.  Nobody wanted him found dead in his trailer.  And not reasons of genuine concern.

      As for LIndsay, her antitics were mild-ish compared to Mr. Sheen’s–I don’t recall her holding a knife to anybody’s throat or trashing a hotel room whle a terrified hooker hid in a closet.  And with all the reports of massive drug use, nobody seems to have checked it out–imagine if Lindsay supposedly had a “briefcase” of cocaine delivered to her home, while indulging in an orgy?  Yet it is Miss Lohan who is a slut, a whore, a hasbeen, a pathetic case–but millions still think Charlie is an okay guy, living the randy dream.  Everybody’s being “mean” to him.

      In any case, for his children’s sake, and rest of his family, who appear to love him, I hope Charlie gets real.  Although his angry Twitter statements before her entered rehab indicate he has not hit bottom yet.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Not everyone gives the “bad boys” a better break than the “bad girls” and if anything it just points out the disparity between men and women in our society. Men make more so they can get better attorneys and better publicists. Who “pull strings” to paint a pretty picture. Nothing pretty about any of them.  If they want to wallow in the sewer, leave them there. Instead of eliciting sympathy for them. 

        Some even began eliciting sympathy for Phil Spector. As if paying his dues to speak gave him the right to kill someone for a thrill.  Just as long as he didn’t kill an “A” list actress who pulled in big bucks. 

        • avatar Miss Lee says:

          I would not be suprised if Charlie ended up in a situation similar to Phil Spector.  I consider it a likely outcome if the press reports can be believed. 

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    As liberated, or just libertine, as I am this constant focus, or perhaps “vigil” would be a better word given their amazingly, although appallingly, loyal fans, on the dopeheads and drunks of Hollywood tend to cause one to wish there were still “morals clauses” in contracts. 

    I wouldn’t waste a dime or waste a moment of time watching anything that has the name Mel Gibson or Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen attached to it. There are others. But they are the worst.  The worst possible example for children. And adults.  Leave them  in the sewer, Liz, where they belong. 

    • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

      BRAVA, BRAVA, BRAVA, If I spent 24 hours thinking and writing I couldn’t say it better so I won’t even try.  Thanks for being inside my brain on this one Snooks.  I know we don’t agree on issues a lot of the time but this time 100 per cent!!!

  3. avatar CYNTHIA NEIL says:

    Well said Snooks.  I am in complete agreement.   I watch nothing that  has people who  have shown themselves to be arrogant self-indulgent idiots, nor do I watch things whose which are stultifyingly stupid.   (Family Guy leaps to mind)
    We as consumers do have choices.  And any woman who pays Charlie Sheen’s salary, by watching  his show really ought to think twice, or even three times.

    • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

      Yes Cynthia! I have never watched Two and 1/2 Men or Family Guy or Family Guy!  There are lots of other but no matter.  I also would not let a child of mine appear on a program with Charlie Sheen. Another decision that needs some thought

  4. avatar Lila says:

    I don’t understand why the network could be out millions in lawsuits if something happens to Charlie Sheen, unless it were to happen in the workplace.  With most jobs, employers are in no way responsible for their employees’ behavior outside the workplace.
    As for the rest of the cast and crew working on the series, I would like to think their livelihoods don’t hang on the idiocy of one man.  Either the series can stand without him, or these folks should be capable of finding other work.  No series lasts forever, anyway.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Lila….The series (which I find gross and stupid) cannot “stand” without him.”  He IS the show.  And if, after being forgiven and taken back once again, Sheen was to go out and finally kill some hooker or get into a car wreck with dire consequences to an innocent party…I think I’d  see a lawsuit or two.  Aside from the horrible PR.

      • avatar Lila says:

        But that implies that the network is responsible for how actors behave off-set.  Seems legally dubious.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        He IS the show.

        If this were the old days, there would be no show at this point. Those who play devil’s advocates for the dopeheads and drunks are merely playing with the devil. Enough already. Not everyone is out carousing with hookers, engaging in kinky sex, doing cocaine, or acting out their pyschotic tendencies in public. Private lives are public lives when you seek the public life. It’s time for people to realize that. And behave accordingly. If they can’t, people should stop supporting them. And stop supporting those who do. Cut off the networks and their advertisers that promote this ongoing reality show in Hollywood’s sewers.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Tallulah Bankhead was probably the most scandalous star that ever hit Hollywood or Broadway but managed somehow to avoid the sewer. And never held up productions or ruined productions or had to “rehabbed” in order to “rehab” her career.

          She could appear insensate to the point of being comatose, and sometimes in fact actually was, and yet the lights would go on and the camera would start whirring or the lights would dim and the curtain would go up and there she was. Giving everyone what they paid for. A performance to remember but not because she couldn’t perform. She defied the critics as well as the “backstage” observers.   And probably herself I suspect.

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Dear Baby…you’re right, not everyone is out carousing with hookers.  But Charlie Sheen is. And whatever his liver looks like, that terrible show is popular. 

           Errol Flynn was accused was accused of statutory rape way back in the 1940’s.  He got off. (No pun intended.)  And was applauded in movie houses when Alexis Smith said to him,  “You’re no gentleman!” in some movie at the time. So Charlie’s behavior is not without historical precedence. (Lana Turner’s daughter stabbed Lana’s lover to death.  Her career had a resurgence–even tho many thought it was LT herself who did the deed.) But eventually–back to the guys– Flynn’s  well-known drinking and debauchery affected his looks, his performances and his career.

          And I would say the same for Miss Bankhead, whom you reference below (or is it above)   She was never a great movie star, but in time even her stage career began to suffer the effects of her drinking and other habits.  She was “too much” to put up with over any length of time.  She was  a hell of woman, however.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            None of the above made public spectacles of themselves over and over and over and over.  If they had, they wouldn’t have had a career at all. Rehabbed or otherwise. Scandalous, yes.  But we are not talking scandal. We are talking about behavior.

            As for Tallulah Bankhead, I guess it is a matter of perspective but I’m not aware of her causing any havoc one the camera started whirring or the curtain went up. 

      • avatar Lourdes Villarreal says:

        I disagree that Charlie Sheen IS the show. I see that nobody here is particularly fan of it, but I am (or at least I was until it became unbereably vulgar), and I can say that Two and a Half Men’s success lies not on Charlie, but on the entire cast, many of them much better performers than him: Jon Cryer, Holland Taylor, Conchata Ferrell to name a few. AND on the screenwriters.
        There’s been talk about a replacement for Charlie in case he doesn’t get his act together any time soon. I don’t find the idea all too ridiculous. CBS and Warner might have enabled his behavior, but when there’s so much money at stake, there should be little doubt that the big companies will consider a replacement in a heartbeat. It’s been done before. The very same Charlie Sheen replaced Michael J. Fox in “Spin City”, when Fox had to leave the show due to his Parkinson. Spin City ran successfully with Charlie for 2 or 3 more seasons.
        Maybe the realization that he’s not that irreplaceable will be a wake-up call for Charlie. Or maybe, as Mr. Wow says, he has to hit bottom real hard, like after losing his job, his money, his career, his family… I just hope it won’t have to go that far.

  5. avatar Lila says:

    At this point, I would say the Republicans should fear Palin, Bachmann and their ilk, precisely because they seem to have no real alternatives.  One of our two major parties, currently holding a majority in Congress, and they can’t come up with some natural leaders to appeal to a broader base?
    I have always been registered independent and will vote for whoever seems the better choice in an election, but for decades now, I have been dissatisfied with the candidates from both parties.  Usually it just seems like a choice of who would be the least awful.
    But somehow, since the last campaign, the Republican party in particular seems to have taken a quantum leap downward.  The ugliness of the far right, and the Republicans’ seeming inability to provide sensible alternatives, practically guarantees that I will vote Democrat in the future, just out of fear.  Yes, fear, because I perceive – rightly or wrongly – that the Republican party is full of ignorance, intolerance. and hate, and I don’t want that in power.

    • avatar O E says:

      “the Republican party is full of ignorance, intolerance. and hate, and I don’t want that in power.” 

      Lila is correct.  Add to that the worst attribute: arrogance fed by the fear, intolerance, and hate (a product of ignorance) of which many GOP and Tea Party members seem to pride themselves.  These people are afraid to be found out, so they brandish their “patriotism” and religious beliefs up there with their guns and cowardly bravado.  This is unfortunate, because there are Republicans and Tea Partiers  who are decent, educated, responsible patriots whose voices are silent.

      As for Charlie Sheen and others like him, the networks and studios which continue to hire them shoulder a lot of the blame for their continued gross misbehavior.  If they ever stop basing their programming on the $$$ sign, maybe then the public will enjoy good television and movies instead of crass blockbusters and “reality” shows where untalented wannabes get encouragement from ignorant, indiscriminating viewers.  There is great talent out there among writers and actors and artists, who do pay their dues, to sink the untalented; the people who run the shows and make the movies  need to have the integrity to hire them.

    • avatar Scarlett Ohara Mitchell says:

      I do not believe that the Republican Party holds a monopoly on (or is full of) “ignorance, intolerance, and hate”.
      You had me going “uh huh, yep, yes sirree”, until that last line.

      • avatar Lila says:

        That’s why I wrote that it is a perception, right or wrong, and it scares me.  Serious Republicans need to take steps to correct those perceptions.  I don’t think I am the only one who has them.

  6. avatar Richard Bassett says:

     Though living under a microscope, Sheen’s behavior is simply too dangerous for a man his age. Hasn’t he been through all of these debacles time and time again and consequently have ended up in the hospital? His body is telling him to cease and desist. He is not a 22 year old, living the fast life in Hollywood, managing to bounce back without fear of hospitals and rehabs. I lived that fast lane life in Hollywood and, at, 22, my peers and I not only accepted it but expected it. We were all in the same boat without hospitals and rehabs to run to (Not that anybody would do that). Maybe this extended mid-life crisis that Charlie is living will pass without any intervention but one cannot ignore a hospital visit once a month. In the hospital, it is possible that they put his life back together so quickly that it really doesn’t have time for it to stick. Sheen is 46 and his wonton life is catching up with him. But, he is the only one who knows if long term sobriety is necessary at… this point. His studio is certainly leaving that decision up to him and as long as he is able to show up, that seems to be the alright with them. He will not find support at work. He knows that and the studio knows that. My hope is that these incidents are warning signs and he starts to recognize them. He cannot live his private life in chaos forever. There may be many interventions before he comes to term with it himself. We sit back and wait and those who love him feel helpless. That is just the way that these things go.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Richard…Charlie has not hit bottom.  There are more episodes to come.  Hopefully, he’ll survive.

      • avatar Paul Smith says:

        Bravo for Charlie who, till now, managed his career as well as a robust appetite for vice.  What’s the problem ?  Maybe he wants to go with a bang, or accurately, many bangs.

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Dear Paul…maybe he’ll go out with a really big bang, and take some others with him–his latest hooker, perhaps a few people who get in the way of his careening car. Could be the next wife or girlfriend whom he threatens with a knife to her throat.  So many fun scenarios.

          • avatar Pdr de says:

            I don’t think Charlie Sheen likes, much loves, anybody; including himself.  The “angry little boy” persona doesn’t fit someone who is nearly half a century old.  He’s ridiculous and totally out-of-control.
            I can’t help thinking of his daughters and how this man impacts on them.  I can’t imagine how he treats them when he’s with them – if he’s even aware they’re there or that they’re his children.
            I can think of nothing so frightening as waking up in the morning and not having any recollection of what you did or where you were the night before.  This man’s a loose cannon, a great danger to himself and to others.
            Rehab is a joke where he’s concerned – as soon as he gets out, he’ll have another party and another after that.  As far as the show is concerned, it won’t be missed.  If I had teenage children they would not be allowed to watch “Two and a Half Men”. There’s nothing sexy or appealing about Charlie Sheen.  He’s a nasty piece of work; clearly hates women, has no self-control, enjoys the fact that he can intimidate and threaten women, in particular, and worse, he gets away with it.  The headlines aren’t over yet.
            America’s worship of celebrities has reached an all-time high! While America goes down the tubes, the concern of far too many people is centered on what’s taking place in Hollywood, who’s sleeping with whom, who is pregnant, getting a divorce, having a face lift or was arrested for being drunk or beating up his wife or girlfriend. Very scary!

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:

        Mr WoW
                          His health will give up much soon than any psychological aspect of his condition. He feels invincible…which is usually typical for those who are very young, but he is closing in on 50 and with each episode, bouncing back will be a bit more difficult. If he is to survive, he doesn’t have time to spare. If the booze doesn’t do it, the cocaine definitely will.

  7. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Update: Charlie Sheen consents to rehab….in his home! This is the epitome of denial. Part of the rehab experience is to interact with others who you can identify with. This is like having brain surgery on the kitchen table. Locking yourself away from others discovering sobriety is not beneficial to anyone. A closed supportive atmosphere is the most appropriate start of a very long journey.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Quite amazing.  No doubt he intends to interact with others he can identify with. As they get high and head for the bedroom.

  8. avatar Linda Myers says:

    I really hope Charlie decides to save Charlie, not that I see him as being an incredible actor – but from the mom part of me who would not want to see my own doing this slide. Without the drugs we would think those beautiful little girls would be incentive, but I have had people in my own life who gave up the children rather than the drugs – and another hooker on GMA gaining some spotlight over a celebrity is rather sickening all over again. You would think celebrities in a moment of clarity would learn from each other where not to pick up your party favors.

  9. avatar Daniel Sugar says:

    If Paddy Chayefsky were alive, he’d be writing about Charlie Sheen. Profits vs. a man’s life. It’s very “Network”.

  10. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    He has not “gone” to rehab.  He is paying for a team of doctors, therapists, etc. to come to his HOME.  I don’t think he thinks he has a problem.  The day he was reported to have entered rehab he told TMZ that he is “Perfectly OK”.  I don’t know a lot about rehab, but I don’t think it works if you stay home.  Thoughts anyone?

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

      Only Charlie knows the amount of intervention that he needs, but he needs other more profession people in a safe (controlled) environment to help him get there. He needs to be among other addicts to realize that he is not alone with his condition, and to learn from them. During rehab, a variety of tools are taught to the clients so when they DO go home, they are much more prepared for the temptations and situations that they will face. That is the prime purpose of rehab. To believe that he can do this at home (sigh), is a sign of denial and he is doing what the TV executives are pressuring him to do. But he wants to do it his way. The same way that brought him into the throngs of addiction to begin with. His thinking is askew, and he needs to follow the advice of those who work in the field. It doesn’t help him at all to do this at home.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        If if I understood yesterday’s updates correctly he has decided rather than do the rehab thing he will go back to work so there are sufficient shows for the network to run so that everyone will have a job. Such a nice guy, you know?  Meanwhile his father apparently has filed for conservatorship. Which no doubt will be blocked by Denise Richards.

        No updates today so far but then today’s updates are about Lindsay Lohan who apparently forgot to pay for a necklace. No big deal. She’s such a nice kid, you know? Just parties a little too much. And forgets to pay for necklaces.

        Judges should start sentencing the media in these matters. Send the media to jail for feeding the egos of the spoiled little brats.  A photo, 30 dyas in jail. An “exclusive” interview with the family/friend/total stranger, 90 days in jail.  And exclusive interview with the spoiled little brats, 1 year in jail. 

  11. avatar Chip Griswold says:

    Charlie Sheen.  The more things change, the more they remain the same.  I feal that this (Charlie Sheen saga) isn’t going to end well.  Hope I am wrong.

    As for his TV show it is like many others today: generating popularity by flaunting, if not deviant, clearly bad behavior.  They say there is a time and a place for everything: either “they” never saw this show (2.5 Men), or “they” have yet to find the right time and right place.  Certainly prime time is not the right time. 

  12. avatar RS Gar says:

    I don’t get why Sheen gets to be an abusive jerk for years – to the point where he’s in trouble with the law – and remain the highest-paid actor on TV while Tiger Woods gets raked over the coals and sees his career suffer for philandering. You don’t see Sheen holding tearful press conferences, begging forgiveness.

  13. avatar rick gould says:

    Well, once “Two and a Half Fifths” finishes its run, Sheen may find the well has finally run dry in terms of getting quality work. He kind of holds the show hostage… but once it’s done, “Goodbye, Charlie.”
    What will be his other options? Certainly not Broadway, because “Broadway doesn’t go in for bOOOOOze and DOPE!”