Why Charlie Sheen Is Too Big to Fail

As long as his sitcom succeeds, CBS will never fire him

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Though his publicist says it was an "adverse allergic reaction to some medication," multiple sources insist cocaine was the reason actor Charlie Sheen trashed a Plaza hotel suite Tuesday night before NYPD officers found him "stark-naked" in his room. The incident reportedly began when Sheen accused his escort of stealing his wallet and began throwing over tables and chairs. The woman then locked herself in the bathroom and phoned a friend who alerted hotel staffers who called 911. If that wasn't bad enough, Sheen's ex-wife and kids were in the next room the whole time.

The messy affair comes less than a year after Sheen was arrested on second-degree assault for allegedly threatening his wife at knife point. Is any of this affecting his career? No: People magazine reports that Sheen's already returning to the set of CBS's "Two and a Half Men." The blogs react:

  • This Guy Gets Away with Murder, exclaims Michael K at DListed:
Charlie Sheen can turn whatever is left of his brains into overcooked Malt-O-Meal and trash a fancy hotel room on a Tuesday, and then he can non-nonchalantly skip into his job and collect a $1.6 million pay check the next week. And the only thing he'll get from his co-workers is a slightly awkward "Well, at least they didn't find a dead hooker" side-eye.
  • It's Not Fair, tweets Hollywood Life Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Fuller: "[Wh]y have drug/ anger issues not been career-killer for him but have for Lindsay Lohan?"
  • Sheen Is Invincible, explains Lacey Rose at Forbes:

Two and a Half Men, the show he has carried for eight seasons, is the most-watched comedy in prime-time.Thus far this season, the sitcom is averaging 15.2 million viewers, a particularly impressive feat given both it’s age and the increasingly fractured landscape it plays in. Among the all-important 18 to 49-year-old audience, it draws a highly competitive 5.2 rating. That translates to approximately $207,000 per ad, the second priciest live-action comedy in prime-time (behind NBC’s lesser watched The Office), according to Advertising Age’s annual report. Last season, it generated $155.1 million in CBS ad revenue for the Tifany network, reports Kantar Media. And none of that factors in the many millions in syndication revenue Warner Brothers (like Sheen) is raking in on an annual basis.

So until you see a) the show’s ratings take a nose dive or b) Sheen’s notorious behavior land him in jail for an extended period forcing production to be shut down, I don’t imagine you’ll be hearing much from those TV bosses of his.

  • He May Be Headed for Jail, notes Guy Adams at The Independent: "If he turns out to have been drinking, not to mention having taken drugs, he will on paper have violated the terms of his probation, and could face jail. If he physically threatened the (as-yet un-named) prostitute who was hiding in the wardrobe, then a spell in the slammer is virtually a given – even in Aspen, where the local judiciary likes to mollycoddle their celebrity defendants. Quite where this leaves his role in Two and a Half Men, the supposedly family-friendly network TV show for which he’s paid $2 million an episode, is anyone’s guess."
  • He's Scandal-Proof, explained CNN's Joe Plazza in an article last December: "Sheen ... has known scandal before and has worked each of his arrests, divorces and indiscretions into the canon of bad-boy lore that has made him essentially scandal-proof." He quotes a public relations professor at Carnegie Mellon who says, "this behavior is built into the fabric of Charlie Sheen's bad-boy profile ... he will bounce back as long as his popularity on his show remains high."
  • Still, CBS Could Afford to Fire Him, writes Scott Pierce at The Salt Lake Tribune: "I'm not a doctor — clearly — but I did once spend a week in the hospital because of an adverse allergic reaction to some medication. I did not, however, yell and throw furniture around my hotel room at the Plaza. CBS is doing extremely well in the ratings right now with a lot of shows in addition to 'Two and a Half Men.' Which makes you wonder how much longer the network will put up with Sheen's personal life."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.