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Charlie Sheen is demanding a raise. Really? This despite the fact that he's already the highest-paid actor on television, and he's melted down multiple times in the last several weeks: on the way to rehab, on the Internet, and in rants on the radio. He's been so erratic that CBS stopped production on the show "Two and a Half Men," the most popular sitcom on television.
NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.
NEDA ULABY: Today, on ABC's "Good Morning America," Charlie Sheen looked a little twitchy and overly intense as he said...
(Soundbite of TV program, "Good Morning America")
Mr. CHARLIE SHEEN (Actor): I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen.
ULABY: The actor also graced NBC's "Today" show with anecdotes of how badly CBS underappreciated him.
(Soundbite of TV program, "Today")
Mr. SHEEN: I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special. I'm tired of pretending like I'm not bitching a total freaking rock star from Mars. And people can't figure me out. They can't process me. I don't expect them to. You can't process me with a normal brain.
ULABY: On "Two and a Half Men," Sheen's character mirrors his actual public persona, a debauched playboy named Charlie with a taste for booze and sex workers.
(Soundbite of TV program, "Two and a Half Men")
Unidentified Woman (Actress): (as Character) How about you, Charlie? Is there anyone special in your life?
Mr. SHEEN: (as Charlie Harper) No, not really. I mean, there's gals with special skills, but I got to pay extra.
ULABY: Sheen's feud with CBS is personal. And it's worth noting his appearances today were on ABC and NBC, says Time magazine television writer James Poniewozik.
Mr. JAMES PONIEWOZIK (Writer, Time): One would imagine there was a certain satisfaction in going to, not just one but both of CBS' major network competitors. You may not have noticed, but Charlie Sheen is a person who is occasionally motivated by vengeance.
ULABY: Some people estimate "Two and a Half Men" to be worth as much as a quarter-billion dollars. Stopping production last week was a decision that cost tens of millions.
Mr. SHEEN: I'm not hiding from anybody. I'm not hiding from anybody.
ULABY: Earlier today, Sheen was on TMZ, along with both of his girlfriends he calls his goddesses. Last week, his unhinged radio interviews included one with a description of his boss, Chuck Lorre, that reeked of anti-Semitism.
Mr. SHEEN: A certain Chaim Levine - yeah, that's Chuck's real name -mistook this rock star for his own selfish exit strategy, bro.
ULABY: Lorre's first name is actually Charles. Sheen's also taken to ranting about AA. On the "Today" show this morning, he described his technique for beating addiction without it.
(Soundbite of TV program, "Today")
Mr. JEFF ROSSEN (Host, "Today"): You don't need Alcoholics Anonymous. How have you done that?
Mr. SHEEN: I closed my eyes and made it so, with the power of my mind.
ULABY: It's hardly unheard of, says Time magazine's James Poniewozik, for networks such as ABC or NBC to put train wrecks like Sheen on news shows for ratings. But he says it feels unseemly to see him being given a platform.
Mr. PONIEWOZIK: It is weird, and kind of disturbing, to hear somebody treat Charlie Sheen as though his notions about curing addiction with his mind and being a warlock...
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. PONIEWOZIK: ...with Adonis DNA and tiger blood is really a serious, legitimate way of looking at the world.
ULABY: And it doesn't make Poniewozik feel great about the world either, he says, that Sheen was suspended for insulting his boss, not for multiple allegations of violence against women. Today, Sheen's longtime publicist made news of his own. He announced his resignation.
Neda Ulaby, NPR News.
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