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Cowhead: No regrets for cancer jokes about Roger Ebert during Charlie Sheen's Tampa show

You might think, after being admonished publicly by actor Denise Richards and star film critic Roger Ebert, Tampa radio personality Mike "Cowhead" Calta might be a little remorseful.

Especially since their criticism centered on a raw joke Calta cracked about Ebert's cancer Friday while questioning Charlie Sheen on stage, making fun of a man who lost much of his face to the disease.

You could not be more wrong.

"I think she's trying to keep her image as the good guy in their relationship," said Calta of Richards, who issued a post on Twitter Sunday apologizing for Sheen's "vicious mouth" in talking about the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic's thyroid cancer.

"I'm not in the film business," he added. "And it looks like Charlie might not be working for a while, so I don't think he cared, either."

Calta spent about 20 minutes Friday interviewing Sheen as part of the erratic star's Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option tour stop at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. On stage, he recalled watching Sheen challenge Ebert and his former film reviewing partner Gene Siskel on a talk show for suggesting James Spader might have performed better in the classic film Wall Street.

Calta's observation: "Now, one of them is dead and cancer ate the other one's (expletive) face off. Now that is winning."

"I didn't wish that upon them at all," Sheen retorted. "But in hindsight, it's pretty (expletive) cool."

Siskel died in 1999 at age 53 while recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor; Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002, which eventually led to operations removing parts of his jaw and face.

Richards, who divorced Sheen in 2006, took time Sunday to post an apology to Ebert on Twitter.

"SorryU were on the other end of his vicious mouth," she messaged, adding, "anyone whos (sic) been touched by cancer knows the bravery of fighting that battle."

Her post came soon after Ebert tweeted himself on the issue, noting: "Charlie Sheen made fun of my cancer because I dissed him in 'Wall Street?' Dude, you ain't *seen* me in attack mode."

Calta offered no apologies for the joke, saying he was focused mostly on keeping an unruly crowd and highly distractible Sheen engaged.

As the afternoon host on WHPT-FM (102.5, the Bone), Calta got a call from Sheen's representatives the day before his Friday show, asking if he would question the star on stage (they ask a different personalities to do interviews in each city).

Minutes before the show started, Calta asked Sheen for permission to discard the preselected questions and instead delivered a litany of explicitly profane queries.

"I think Charlie's a lot less drug addicted and sex addicted than we think," said Calta, who predicted on his show Monday that Sheen might yet regain his job on CBS' hit sitcom Two and Half Men. "I think he's got more problems with bipolar disorder and depression; I just wish he weren't surrounded by so many enablers."

Cowhead: No regrets for cancer jokes about Roger Ebert during Charlie Sheen's Tampa show 04/25/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2011 9:47pm]
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