Try to contain your tears.
Since Sheen was hospitalized on January 27th and is now at home in rehab — which puts his hit show “Two and a Half Men” on hiatus — the media has been reconsidering its long unanswered question about the hard-partying actor: namely, how does he get away with it?
Simply put — its because “Two and a Half Men” is a rousing success.
The LA Times has tabulated the numbers:
[Two and a Half Men] will bring in more than $600 million in syndication revenue over the next few years for Warner Bros. Television. And while CBS pays a steep $4 million per episode, the network still makes a tidy profit from ad revenue — an estimated $155 million in the 2009-10 season alone, according to Kantar Media.
The ladies on The View (video below) cited the figure that Sheen had spent half a million dollars on his habit in the past six months alone — but that doesn’t seem much in comparison to the $2 million Sheen is paid per episode.
By many accounts Sheen is not just a danger to himself: he has supported prostitution and has a history of violence against women. Another claim made on The View today was that the porn star who recently went on a drug binge with Sheen said that he asked her to take care of his kids.
But all of this is greeted with a certain sense of blase by the industry. As a public, we are no doubt suffering from Sheen fatigue. We have heard so many hookers-and-coke stories about him at this point it’s difficult to care. But what about the very industry (and network) that his acting work supports? Why aren’t they more concerned about the actor’s behaviour?
CBS spokesperson Chris Ender recently told the LA Times in a statement that “The most important thing right now is that Charlie is seeking help. Any immediate programming or financial implications pale in comparison to his long-term health, safety, and well-being.”
But Matt Zoller Steitz at Salon offers a very different perspective on CBS:
By making a purely bottom-line decision to keep employing Sheen — judging the money it would lose from not having the sitcom for a few months versus the money it would make once Sheen returns — CBS aligned itself with the American mainstream, the mentality that rewards economy-wrecking CEOs with gigantic salaries and golden parachutes, and that lets presidents commit war crimes without fear of criminal prosecution.
The major difference — the saving grace, really — is that CBS’ cold-blooded calculations don’t directly injure anybody except a few people directly affected by Charlie Sheen’s drunken viciousness.
Video of The View discussing Charlie Sheen is below.
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