Advice to Charlie Sheen from Australia’s top TV publicist

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen appears to have been taking some strong drugs. This is not a surprise but his self-inflicted career suicide is quite something to behold, even by Sheen standards. Here’s a quick re-cap of what he’s said over the past few days:

About his workout routine:
Q: And you’re working out even a couple of times a day?
“Umm…Yeah, but there’s only one time in the gym if you catch my drift.”

About his tropical getaway with ex-wife, Brooke Mueller, and two mistresses:
“Where there were four, there are now three. Good-bye, Brooke, and good luck in your travels; you’re going to need it. Badly … She’s not there now and we are and I don’t know, winning, anyone? Rhymes with winning? Anyone? Yeah, that would be us. Sorry man, didn’t make the rules. Oops.”

About himself:
“I’m sorry, man, but I’ve got magic. I’ve got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time—and this includes naps—I’m an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordinance to the ground.”
“There’s a new sheriff in town. And he has an army of assassins.”

About his porn star family of “Goddesses”:
“Let me say this about the Goddesses, I don’t think the term is good enough, but when you’re bound by these terrestrial descriptions, you must use the best term available. So if you think about it dude, I’m 0-for-3 in marriage, but like in baseball, the scoreboard doesn’t lie. Never has. So what we all have is a marriage of the hearts. And to sully, contaminate, or radically disrespect this unit with a shameful contract is something I’ll leave to the amateurs and bible grippers.”

Charlie with ex-wife Brooke Mueller

About Alcoholics Anonymous and recovery:
“I have cleansed myself. I closed my eyes and in a nanosecond, I cured myself… It’s the work of sissies. The only thing I’m addicted to is winning. This bootleg cult, arrogantly referred to as Alcoholics Anonymous, reports a 5 percent success rate. My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math … another one of their mottoes is ‘Don’t be special, be one of us.’ Newsflash: I am special, and I will never be one of you! I have a disease? Bulls**t! I cured it with my brain, with my mind. I cured it, I’m done … you don’t look like you’re having a lot of fun. I’m gonna hang out with these two smoking hotties and fly privately around the world. It might be lonely up here but I sure like the view, Alex!”

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About.. well, no-one really knows:
“Guys, it’s right there in the thing, duh! We work for the Pope, we murder people. We’re Vatican assassins. How complicated can it be? What they’re not ready for is guys like you and I and Nails and all the other gnarly gnarlingtons in my life, that we are high priests, Vatican assassin warlocks. Boom. Print that, people. See where that goes.”

Now just imagine you were his publicist. What would you do? Besides reach for the vodka yourself……

Australia’s leading TV publicist is a smart and talented man called Steven Murphy who has weaved his magic on reality tv shows such as Big Brother and Masterchef. We asked him how HE would rehabilitate Charlie Sheen’s smashed-to-smithereens career:

Charlie's mug shot

“This latest installment of the Sheen-tatsic saga has me on the edge of my seat and got all my publicity-juices flowing. It is pure tabloid pleasure and I would love to be a part of it. This is the story that just keeps on giving. For a man who has had more scandals than then the entire cast of St Elmo’s Fire over the last 20 years, this one is an absolute gem.

Now Charlie has a long history of ‘incidents’. The common theme is always partying, porn stars and prostitutes. This dates right back to Madam Heidi Fleiss’ little black book discloser in ‘95 where he was notoriously heavily featured. His weakness for drugs and alcohol is just as well documented and he has been fodder for the tabloid press for years.

But this latest incident is front-page news like no other. But why? Why is this incident haunting our news services day and night?

This story took on a life of its own last Friday. Fresh from a brief stint in rehab following another hotel/porn star/cocaine frenzy in late January, Charlie went on radio for his first interview. Listen to it here.

He gave one of the most phenomenal rants I’ve ever heard. It is 18mins of radio that will astound you while making you feel incredibly good about your own mental health. He attacks his producers, his bosses, his exes and many who have tried to help him. As a result of this rant his incredibly successful program Two and A Half Men was cancelled by CBS for the remainder of its season. That is huge and unprecedented news even by television standards.

Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper on the set of Two and a Half Men

To further add to the problem Charlie has literally not shut up since his show was cancelled. He has done the media-rounds like a man possessed! ABC News, TMZ, ACA, CNN – the works. And every time he goes on air he shares another little nugget of pure gold, slamming someone in the process, further feeding the media frenzy. The publicist in me is screaming “just shut your mouth Charlie” and then this whole story would die right down. No more quotes from Charlie and there would be nothing more to talk about.

It would be easy to blame Charlie for all of this but even Lindsay Lohan could see the man has issues. He needs a strong hand and guidance, followed by intensive psychological help.

The question I keep asking is where is his publicist? Why is someone not shutting this story down? Obviously I am a little biased thinking that a publicist could have changed all of this for Charlie but I’ve been in this job since before Dawson’s Creek so I know what we can do. Then yesterday the news came through that Charlie’s long-suffering publicist had resigned. Shock Horror. Besides being my big chance to crack LA it also showed that Charlie was not listening to anyone, he is the Thomas the Tank Engine of this trainwreck.

While there are certainly no hard and fast rules in publicity-land, god only knows I’ve learnt that the hard way – there are some general guidelines that publicists live by that are applicable here. For Charlie.

1. CONTROL THE MESSAGE: We all know what we would like the story to be before we go into it. Briefing notes, dot points, bios, press releases, many conversations – all things we do preparing for a big story. Judging by the Sheen-scenario the message is anything Charlie wants it to be or pops into his manic mind at the time.

2. PREPARE THE CLIENT: We rehearse answers, chat through potential questions, make sure the client is in the right headspace to do the interview. At absolutely no time in my career has the phrase “I will murder with great violence” been an appropriate response.

3. LESS IS MORE IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT: The more fuel you throw on the fire the higher it burns. This ties in with controlling the message. In a nutshell… say the right thing to the right people at the right time. That’s crisis management. Not going on every News program in the country with a client who makes Courtney Love look sane.

Charlie Sheen in Wall Street

4. YOU NEED TO WORK HARD FOR YOUR AUDIENCE: Its always important for your client’s audience to know that they are appreciated. This is where the US and Australia differ greatly in response. As a make-good after a scandal in the US the standard comeback is rehab, apologise, beg for forgiveness and find God. Not our Charlie. He slams AA, his bosses, the broadcaster and anyone who disagrees. You gotta love the arrogance of that.

But like I said, no hard or fast rules. Yesterday I spoke with a celebrated-music-publicity-guru who completely disagreed that Charlie should be gagged. She loved that he was showing such character and unapologetically breaking free of the cookie-cutter Hollywood mold. Fair point and I don’t totally disagree, but there is a lot at stake here.

As much as we’ve all relished in every detail of this sordid story and his behaviour, here is a man of considerable talent. He has starred in two of the all-time great films in Platoon and Wall Street plus a string of other commercial hits. And it doesn’t matter whether you love it or hate it there is no denying Two And A Half Men is one of the biggest international television successes of the last decade. He has won numerous critical and popularity awards. My fear is that despite his acting talent and success he is teetering on the brink of becoming a ‘celebrity’ rather than a celebrated actor.

As a celebrity the best he can hope for is his own warts-and-all reality program on E! As an actor he has far more to offer. My advice would be get off the media merry-go-round Charlie, shut down the story and start focusing on what you do best or you’ll have TV camera’s in your bedroom before you know it.

And no one wants that!

Charlie Sheen talked to Piers Morgan in his first live television interview since the cancellation of his TV show, Two and a Half Men:

Are you a Charlie Sheen fan? Like Two and a Half Men much? CAN YOU UNDERSTAND WHY IT’S SUCH A POPULAR SHOW? Ahem.

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