washingtonpost.com
The TV Column: Let the Charlie Sheen Backlash begin

By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2011; 9:57 PM

And so begins the Charlie Sheen Backlash.

Charlie Sheen may be breaking world records with his tweeting, he may be attracting mondo ratings with the many interviews he's given on various TV and radio shows, but is he really, as he has suggested, "winning!" when it comes to the hearts and minds of Americans? Is he convincing the people who buy tickets to see his next movie, program their TV to watch his next TV project, and otherwise help him support his five children, two ex-wives and, who can forget, the goddesses?

Not so much.

According to new studies, conducted by marketing and consumer research companies HCD and Rasmussen Reports, Sheen's Scorched Earth Media Tour - in which he's been railing against his "Two and a Half Men" employers Warner Bros. TV and CBS - has backfired.

Hardly any of the 748 people HCD polled after Sheen's campaign erupted on ABC's "Good Morning America" were buying Sheen's cured-himself-of-substance-abuse-with-a-blink-of-an-eye gag.

About half of them said they don't even believe Sheen feels bad about the decision of the network and studio to cancel the show for the rest of this TV season - a decision they made after Sheen's wild rant on a syndicated radio show went viral.

About 60 percent of the poll participants said they thought Sheen was mentally ill after seeing him on "Good Morning America."

And more poll participants felt CBS and Warner Bros. had made the right decision to shutter the show after watching Sheen on "GMA" than felt that way before. And, just in case you're thinking they don't feel deeply invested in that question because they don't love the show: About 70 percent of them are regular viewers.

Meanwhile, over at Rasmussen Reports, more than 71 percent of 1,000 American adults polled had an "unfavorable impression" of Sheen.

Sheen, on the bright side, has become a Twitter sensation. Twitter declined to call him the fastest follower collector in its history - claiming the company doesn't track those things - but Guinness World Records has agreed to put him in its books under Fastest Time to Reach 1 million followers. Guinness says Sheen reached the 1-million mark in 25 hours and 17 minutes. On the other hand, Guinness did not have a previous record in that derby, so we're not sure how much weight this title carries.

Forbes reported that Sheen got his Twitter account verified so fast because it was brokered by the Internet startup Ad.ly, which works on celebrity social media endorsement deals.

Sheen tweeted his gratitude to his followers when he hit 1 million: "Thank you Twitter community for the warm reception & the followers that helped me get to 1M in 24 hours!!!"

But then he told tabloid-Web-site-cum-syndicated-TV-show TMZ that the reason he's taken up Twitter is because it's a "cash cow." He says he can score a fortune through product placement.

Ad.ly employs famous-for-being-famous types - think Kourtney Kardashian - to tweet/plug products of companies with whom it has a financial relationship. Celebrity tweeters can earn as much as $25,000 for a single tweet.

Some of the bigger brands that advertise with Ad.ly and its celebrity tweeters are Sony, Microsoft, Lionsgate and Old Navy, the Hollywood Reporter noted.

And despite those more than 1 million Twitter followers, it's not all a bed of roses for Sheen. Some of his followers are followers for the sake of poking fun at him:

"My thoughts and prayers are with Charlie Sheen tonight as he's been diagnosed with Full Blown Busey," tweeted follower/comic Sarah Silverman.

"The more charlie sheen speaks, the more i think, 'you know, lindsay lohan really seems to have her [stuff] together,' " tweeted ThisIsRobThomas.

"Charlie Sheen's done lost his crackers," tweeted Sheen's CBS colleague Neil Patrick Harris.

"Charlie Sheen's brain is a Toyota badly in need of being recalled, no??" suggested zefashionblog.

And, remember how Sheen told Howard Stern this week that his co-star, Jon Cryer, was "behind me 100 percent"?

Well, Cryer has finally spoken for himself about the Scorched Earth Media Tour.

Cryer made a guest appearance on Ellen DeGeneres's syndicated show Thursday - as her receptionist.

"Hey Jon, how's it going?" Ellen asks Cryer as the phone rings.

" 'Ellen DeGeneres Show,' " Cryer says into the phone. "Oh, tickets? Go to EllenTV.com."

"You really do good work," Ellen raves. "You do the work of two and a half men."

"You don't have to say that every time you pick up your messages," Cryer cringes.

"Anyway, thanks for being here - I appreciate it," Ellen says.

"I needed the work," Cryer moans.

Ellen leaves; the phone rings:

" 'Ellen DeGeneres Show.' No, Ellen does not dance all the time. . . . She saves it for the show. She works with a choreographer for several hours before every single show to set up every single step. . . . She's a stickler that way. Cool, okay," Cryer tells the caller, and then hangs up and turns back to his desk computer.

"Ohhhh, this is a train wreck," he mutters.

Ellen's show, like "Two and a Half Men," is distributed by Warner Bros.

And that hissing noise you hear is the sound of the air starting to leak out of Charlie Sheen's Winning Balloon.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company