Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Winning? Not Quite...

In the epic struggle between money and professional conduct, professionalism just won. That's my take on the firing of Charlie Sheen from his hit sitcom. As I alluded to earlier, the unmentioned quandary for CBS and Warner Bros. TV (the studio that produces Sheen's Two And A Half Men) was whether they wanted to sacrifice a cash cow by offing its biggest star. Now we know.

Self-described rock star from Mars or not, Sheen's bosses could only take so much abuse. Further, with Sheen continuing to spiral deeper into instability and recklessness, his liabilities eclipsed his value. Profits heightened the studio's tolerance, but I can only wonder whether WB's insurance carrier for Men would continue to underwrite the show. Further, a letter from WB's lawyers to Sheen's attorney shows his client was making less than great television:
When Mr. Sheen returned from Christmas hiatus, he had lost a large amount of weight-more than 20 pounds, according to Show personnel. He appeared to be using drugs heavily.
You claim that Mr. Sheen was turning in "brilliant" performances during this time. Not true. As outtakes of the filming show, Mr. Sheen had difficulty remembering his lines and hitting his marks. His conduct and condition created substantial tensions on the set. Mr. Sheen conceded in one or more of his numerous recent interviews that he sometimes showed up to work after not having slept and needed to move his mark to accommodate his need to "lean" on something, for balance. These few examples all confirm Mr. Sheen's rapid physical and mental deterioration resulting in a failure to perform his essential duties.
The letter mentions WB and CBS have twice now worked with Sheen to clean him up, adjusting or canceling production on his show only to see him relapse in public and dramatic fashion.

No corporation should have to tolerate an employee that continuously spits in its eye, no matter how much he enhances the bottom line. Bringing Sheen back for another season would've let Hollywood bad boys know they can bully anybody whose pockets they line. That's not exactly "winning."

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