This week, CHML’s Scott Thompson wants to know what a lot of us want to know: what the hell’s up with Charlie Sheen? The 45-year-old actor is no lock to make 46 after a widely-reported string of William Holden weekends. The Two and a Half Men star’s party boy behaviour finally forced his studio and network to force him into some sort of half-assed, stay-at-home rehab. Next thing we hear he’s cold calling radio host Dan Patrick and banging at studio doors yelling, “Let me in.”
I’ve had a few opportunities to speak with Sheen at several TCA functions over the years. In my limited experience, you never knew which Sheen you were going to get. One was standoff-ish with an eye on the exit and the other was like your long-lost brother from another mother. A big baseball fan, Sheen talked Blue Jays like a scout once he knew you were from Toronto. Another time, standing on the hallowed turf of the Rose Bowl at an especially memorable CBS party, he was the funniest, friendliest guy you’d ever want to meet, goofing on his old pals Kiefer Sutherland and Danny Bonaduce.
I have no idea what demons this guy is fighting but I hope he gets the help he needs, and fast. He made Jennifer Lopez’s ghost-hubby look like a hearty Olympian in the last Two and a Half Men I caught last week.
Being part of a Hollywood family either steels you or crushes you, I suppose. You’d have a hard time finding a more serene and chipper individual than Jason Ritter (The Event), son of John and grandson of Tex. Whether it is genetics, upbringing or environment, some second- and third-generation Hollywood stars are simply better adjusted than others.
Despite the money and fame, being thrust into the mad world of La-La land at an early age is extra tough, I’m thinking. You could look no further than Sheen and his brother Emilio Estevez for a fascinating case study.
A year-and-a-half ago now, I was on the set of a Disney Channel movie shot in Toronto, one of those Camp Rock deals. It was late, 11 p.m. or so when I was allowed past a third check point into this nondescript Toronto factory-turned-studio, where several Jonas brothers were trading lines on a large Muskoka Lodge set.
The publicist worked me through the young cast in quick order. I probably spoke to a dozen actors, including the bonus Jonas.
The one individual who stood out, however, seemed like the saddest little girl on the planet. I was introduced to Demi Lovato, who was playing the piano off in the corner. She played beautifully. I hated to interrupt her to begin the interview.
We spoke, but she seemed far away. Lovato was already a showbiz veteran. One of her first gigs was making big eyes at that purple dino Barney. We talked about her upcoming movie, her upcoming TV show (Sonny With a Chance), her upcoming CD. She had just turned 18 at the time. I think my big achievement at her age was trying to warp a plastic road hockey blade over a kettle.
For someone with so many exciting things on the go, she didn’t seem that excited. Maybe one of these Jones’ cads had broken her heart, I guessed. When I got up to leave, I just wanted to give her a hug and buy her a pony.
A year later, I’m half a world away, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and there is young Lovato up on a giant billboard with the same Jonas clan. The Disney girl was part of their World Tour, a pre-Bieber-palooza.
It might have been a week later I heard Lovato had left the tour and entered rehab. Somebody in her circle put a full stop to that circus. Shut her insane world down for six whole months. Good call.
Some of us who run around chasing these people for quotes sometimes forget that they aren’t just punch lines on Leno, they are sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and moms and dads. Fame can be a bitch, whether you’re Charlie Sheen or Demi Lovato. You hate to see anybody in distress, and you hold out hope that people can turn themselves around, or get help from those closest to them.
Cindy Ronsoni has had to hold a lot of celebrity hands over her career as a publicity specialist for Fox, Lifetime, GSN and others. She shares some insider insight about Sheen and the superhuman spin his publicist Stan Rosenfield has been forced to conjure these last few weeks. Check out her take over at her always thoughtful blog Honestly, a must-read for anyone in the P.R. business.
For the radio musings on Sheen and other TV topics, listen in here to the weekly CHML chat.