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Charlie Sheen's 'protected status'
The troubled star of 'Two and a Half Men' keeps getting in trouble, says Matt Zoller Seitz at Salon, but CBS keeps him around because he's a problematic but hugely valuable commodity
Despite Charlie Sheen's revolving door of court dates, hospital runs and rehab attempts, CBS continues to employ and support the troubled actor.
Despite Charlie Sheen's revolving door of court dates, hospital runs and rehab attempts, CBS continues to employ and support the troubled actor.
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ollowing what's been called a "36-hour drink-and-drugs binge with porn stars" that "ended with him being rushed to hospital," actor Charlie Sheen has entered rehab. "Two and a Half Men," the hit show on which he stars — reportedly earning nearly $2 million an episode — has gone on hiatus, with CBS executives saying in a statement that they "support" Sheen's decision and "are profoundly concerned for his health and well-being." The network's support, despite Sheen's dramatic tabloid antics, proves that the troubled actor "remains a TV superstar" with special "protected status," says Matt Zoller Seitz at Salon. Sheen's a hugely valuable commodity, reportedly worth $1 billion to the network. So "he can't be fired," no matter what he does. "He's the golden goose as wife-beating drunk," and "CBS needs the eggs." Here, an excerpt:

... there's something grotesquely appropriate about Sheen's protected status at CBS. The grinning vampire is a poster boy for corporate business ethics, if indeed that's not a complete oxymoron. By making a purely bottom-line decision to keep employing Sheen — judging the money it would lose from not having the sitcom for a few months versus the money it would make once Sheen returns — CBS aligned itself with the American mainstream, the mentality that rewards economy-wrecking CEOs with gigantic salaries and golden parachutes, and that lets presidents commit war crimes without fear of criminal prosecution. The network is media kin to tanneries that dump toxins into local streams because it would cost too much to properly dispose of them and automakers who learn there's a flaw in a new car that could kill thousands of drivers, then decide it would cost less to pay out class-action damages than to recall the cars. The major difference — the saving grace, really — is that CBS' cold-blooded calculations don't directly injure anybody except a few people directly affected by Charlie Sheen's drunken viciousness — and those co-workers who would rather not be associated with a wife-beating scumbag, but keep working on the show because they have kids in college and two or three mortgages to pay.

Read the full article in Salon.

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