Seven months ago, Charlie Sheen was on a drug called Charlie Sheen.
Now, Charlie Sheen seems to be on an image rehabilitation tour unofficially dubbed Charlie Sheen 2.0.
At the Emmy Awards on Sunday, he gave his blessing to his former colleagues at “Two and a Half Men,” the show from which he was fired in March during what I’ll refer to as his Sober Valley Lodge/Warlock Period.
“From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season,” he announced. His words said: “Really, good luck, you guys.” His facial expressions, however, said: “Really? Am I actually saying this out loud?”
Then, the night after the Emmys, Comedy Central aired its much-hyped, previously recorded roast of Charlie Sheen, during which the “Wall Street” star gamely took every comedic bullet fired straight at his tiger blood-pumping heart, even the jokes that touched on his drug problems and his children.
“I’m Charlie Sheen. And in here burns an eternal fire,” he said, gesturing toward his chest. “I just have to remember to keep it away from a crack pipe.”
That fire seems much more controlled than the one we saw earlier this year, during the “rock star from Mars” interviews and the less-than-successful Charlie Sheen “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour. Back then, Charlie Sheen was a raging, out-of-control, pop cultural inferno. Now, he’s more like the Yule Log that flickers peacefully on our TV screens every Christmas Eve. (Actually, that may not be the best analogy — the Yule Log at least has one consistent TV gig it can rely on, while Sheen is still trying to nail his down.)
The fact that Sheen seems saner, more sober and less likely to refer to other people as trolls is undoubtedly good for his health. And given the similarly more tame interviews he’s recently given on both the “Today” and “Tonight” shows, he’s clearly hoping it’s also good for his career. But is the public willing to buy the second (or third, depending on who’s counting) rebranding of the Charlie Sheen image in less than a year?
The past Emmy nominee is currently trying to regain his spot on the airwaves with a sitcom adaptation of the Adam Sandler movie “Anger Management.” Whatever you may think of the guy, one has to admit he’s at least smart enough to know that the “winning” routine is going to have to go if he wants to lure a showrunner, cast members and, eventually, a network to the project.
But what shouldn’t go, if Sheen has a strong sense of what captivated people about his previous flame-out, is the sense that he’s willing to candidly speak his mind. As nuts and often inappropriate as he sounded during his podcasts and off-kilter tweets, many people seemed to respect, on some level, that he was keeping it real. It’s hard to think of Sheen as still capable of sticking it to the man when he stands behind an Emmy Awards podium asserting that the makers of “Two and a Half Men” will undoubtedly continue to make “great television.”
What Sheen needs to do, in this blog’s humble opinion, is — first and foremost — stay off of drugs and away from all prostitutes and goddesses. Then he needs to get back on television on a well-written show that’s edgier than “Two and a Half Men.”
And later — in the not-too-distant future, after he’s thoroughly convinced the public that he’s not a powder keg on the verge of imminent explosion — write a tell-all memoir that lays out what really happened during his “Men” days and the bedlam that followed.
Americans admire celebrities who demonstrate guts and honesty. They also admire people who seem to have their personal houses in order. Time will tell if Sheen can manage both.