Time for media to go cold turkey on Charlie Sheen, stop enabling his big interview bender
Now that Charlie Sheen has spilled his psychosis all over every radio and TV outlets that will have him -- pushing his publicist to quit and inspiring a thousand bits on morning radio and late night TV -- can we all turn away to let him heal?
The nadir came Monday on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, where the host's unctuous style was an awful fit with a celebrity in crisis, lashing out at everyone who doesn't affirm his unstable choices.
"If you were in a rock band in Hollywood, this kind of behavior would be not only accepted, it would be encouraged, because it's part of the brand of the rock band," Morgan told Sheen Monday. "If you were Keith Richards or Mick Jagger, no one would bat an eye." Someone should tell that to Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Pete Doherty, Amy Winehouse, Axl Rose and Steven Tyler -- all pop and rock stars who piled up tough headlines when their substance abuse got out of hand.
Sheen has seemed increasingly haggard and erratic as the interviews pile up, calling NBC's Today to come back to his house and meet the women living with him now -- sorry ABC, your 20/20 "exclusive" airing tonight has been shattered by the impatience of a manic multi-millionaire star. He talked to TMZ from his backyard and basked in the warm glow of Morgan's re-affirmation of all his bizarre behavior.
All of these interviews seem to involve little more than turning on a camera or tape recorder and letting Sheen vent. There's little exploration of his incredibly rocky past of legal and substance abuse problems, and few in Hollywood of sound mind who know him seem willing to speak up. And while cable news segments have gathered addiction experts to chew over the spectacle, few of these interview stories seem to feature anyone who knows the difficult path of addiction and recovery to set any of Sheen's comments in context.
Anyone who has known an addict or past addict knows that lies come easy. So why are news outlets passing along assertions from Sheen that he was negotiating a deal with HBO (which they eventually denied) or getting support from Mel Gibson and Sean Penn?
The best analysis I've heard so far has come from CNN Headline News host Jane Velez-Mitchell, a former addict herself who knows her way around bouts of mania. She noted it sounds as if Sheen might be "white knuckling" his way through a period of sobriety -- going cold turkey at great effort for a short time, to get through his current fight with CBS.
Left without his habitual method for medicating himself, he seems to be channeling the anger and instability resulting from his withdrawals at CBS, she said.
Sheen is using his fame and the spectacle of his public fight to gather big media outlets around him like high-profile enablers -- feeding his sense that no one can credibly challenge his decisions.
Case in point: this morning's interview by Today's Jeff Rossen, in which the correspondent spent long minutes interviewing the two women living with him now -- a bikini model and a porn star -- without asking them about Sheen's history of violence toward women, including charges he threatened his most recent ex-wife Brooke Mueller with a knife and pushed around second ex-wife Denise Richards.
Today's story didn't even mention his girlfriends' real names or history; 24-year-old former Penthouse Pet and experienced adult film actress Rachel "Bree Olson" Oberlin and Natalie Kenly, a twentysomething former covergirl for the marijuana focused magazine Cali Chronic X.
Oberlin, who was arrested for DUI earlier last month in Indiana, also reportedly spent time in a juvenile detention facility as a teen, according to Radar Online. (Click here for an adults only, NSFW story on Olson's blog about her meltdown on Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge's show a few years ago.) Rossen did note both women are helping care for Sheen's twin children with Mueller
The girls answered questions from Rossen in Sheen's kitchen as the star hovered nervously, occasionally breaking in the answer for them. It looked about as comfortable as a hostage video, with no tough questions coming from the guy on the other end of the camera.
Time for responsible media outlets to go cold turkey on Sheen's public meltdown, and wean themselves from the quick high of a major television star melting down before our eyes.