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Lynn Crosbie: Pop Rocks

Sheen continues to rant and rave, but that’s enough about that Add to ...

Well! Who’s a “sad jobless pig” now?

This is what Charlie Sheen once called his ex, Denise Richards, and to him, this week, I say, “ No mas!”

From deep within his facsimile of an Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon, where he sits poised with his “goddesses” and fists that breathe fire, Sheen has me crying like Roberto Duran, who, while being brutally pummelled by Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980, turned his back on his opponent and quit the fight.

That is, no more contemplating (in writing) TV’s unprecedented wild man, who has been viral in the news since he decided to give a radio interview on The Alex Jones Show last week, a now-infamous conversation filled with circumlocutive posturing, awe-inspiring hubris and pure malice.

Being called into Sheen’s octagon” is his show’s producer, Chuck Lorre. Or “Chaim Levine,” as Sheen informs us, acidulously, a reference to Lorre’s original name, Charles Michael Levine.

Accused almost immediately of anti-Semitism, Sheen countered that anyone using his real name, Carlos Estevez, is not an “anti-Latino.”

Yes, but they might be if they spat the name out like an imprecation.

To Jones, Sheen merely called Lorre a “fool” and a “troll,” then suggested that he had been carrying Two and a Half Men for years and gilding its “tin-can” dialogue.

Lorre snapped and cancelled production on the already-stalled show. It looks like the party’s over.

How has Sheen dealt with the blow? By insulting Lorre further: His boss is now a “contaminated little maggot,” according to a public letter issued Thursday. He is “an earthworm,” the embattled actor continues, then urges his “loyal and beautiful fans” to seek justice at his side.

Lorre has, sensibly, withdrawn into a protective shell, citing the actor’s words and “condition” as his reason for cancelling the show.

Sheen, flying higher than ever, is just getting started. He claims to have a multimillion-dollar book and TV deals, and is promoting a special 20/20 interview, airing on Tuesday night.

And the loyal fans are jumping up and down too. Many have isolated Lorre’s “Vanity Cards” – the seconds-long flashes of text he inserts at the end of all of his shows – as grounds for Sheen’s outrage.

One famously uses Sheen’s life as a source of amusement; another is a short story about a man who parties hard but feels “dead inside.” And when this hard-partying man dies from partying, well, “he feels dead inside.” These Vanity Cards, in fact, tend to support Sheen’s jaundiced sense of Lorre’s artistry.

I sympathize with the actor’s rage at the cards: One, as all devotees of Goodfellas know, should never open one’s mouth or rat out one’s friends. If Lorre was worried about Sheen, there were other ways to put that worry forward.

But Lorre, according to a December feature in The New Yorker, has a history of aggravating, and criticizing, his stars, including Cybill Shepherd and Brett Butler (and possibly Roseanne Barr, but Lorre has been too “intimidated,” he says, to speak ill of her).

The same feature compares Lorre to Norman Lear, the 1970s maverick who changed the sitcom beyond recognition, and permanently. But Lear did this by using the 21 minutes (more or less) to produce bleak politically charged plays, dramas that were driven by great dialogue and better actors.

Can the same be said about the Lorre menagerie, which includes the very funny The Big Bang Theory, Dharma and Greg, Mike & Molly and Two and a Half Men? Yes and no.

Lorre’s shows are not earth-quaking, but he has helped to keep the classic sitcom alive, while animating it with raunch and novelty.

And it is Two and a Half Men that is his most daring outing, by far. Lately, it is so off the rails, so gross (there is no other word) that is it hard not to watch it: It’s as though nuclear mitosis struck the show and its self-generated spawn is running amok.

Sheen is being grotesque. He’s a father, though you would never know it to see him and his “goddesses” on the move.

He is insufferable, but he is the great flaming star of a brilliant mainstream TV show, the likes of which come along very rarely. (Why else did we tolerate the salaries and bored efforts of the Friends cast?)

The fans are speaking: Leave the show on!

Sheen has claimed that he will return to work regardless, and amazingly he is demanding a raise to $3-million an episode. He has also claimed that he was cured of his alcoholism in a “nanosecond,” unlike those “sissies” at AA and so on.

As I looked and marvelled at the latest Sheen news, I saw a headline about Frankie Muniz ( Malcolm in the Middle) allegedly putting a gun to his head and I was too lazy to click on the link.

TV is a fickle business, and if Sheen is still hot, Lorre needs to get into the Octagon and make amends with the “battle-tested bayonet” that is superstar Charlie Sheen.

 

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