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Oh, where to begin with this one. Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past week, you’ve likely heard all about Charlie Sheen’s colorful rants discussing his rockstar lifestyle, magic healing powers, live-in goddesses, hatred for Thomas Jefferson, and how he’s not bi-polar, he’s bi-winning (my personal favorite). Well, as entertaining as it might be, I’m not going to use this blog post to make fun of Sheen’s nuttiness or wax poetic on his mental health. Instead, I’m going to use him as a case study to explore the time old saying that all press is good press.
Considering that I work in PR, I tend to be of the school that all press is good press. However, Charlie Sheen madness has me questioning if that’s really true. Let’s look at what’s conspired so far. Since Sheen started his rants last week, CBS cancelled production on his show, his longtime manger resigned, and his sons were taken away from him. Doesn’t look like all this press is really turning out to be so good for Charlie. Plus, I have a feeling the out of work crew of Two and a Half Men isn’t appreciating the press right now either.
On the other hand, all this press has been good for the media outlets who have nabbed Sheen interviews. The Today Show, for example, beat its rival Good Morning America in the ratings on Monday, a feat considering that GMA, broadcast the same network at the Academy Awards, typically has higher ratings on the post-Oscar morning telecast. Piers Morgan’s CNN show also posted extremely high ratings for the first live interview with Charlie since this craziness began. And let’s not forget all the doctors and mental health experts who have been consulted in local and national press over the last few days. They all seem to say the same thing – that they’re not Charlie’s doctor so they can’t really diagnose him, but he seems to have some mental problems (shocker). I’d bet that even though these doctors and experts aren’t saying anything unique, after being mentioned in the media, their practice is probably experiencing some benefits.
So, it seems to me that all press might be good press for someone, but not necessarily the person who’s creating the story.
Granted, we have yet to see how this entire saga will really unfold. Sheen has said that he’s willing to go back to work at Two and a Half Men, although he does want significantly more money to do so. Insulting your boss on national TV seems to be an odd way to go about getting a raise, but crazier things have happened in Hollywood. And maybe after all of these negative events, Charlie will get his life together and have a major comeback a la Robert Downey Jr. He does have tiger blood and Adonis DNA, after all.
It remains to be seen what kind of PR lessons we can learn from Charlie Sheen. But, I will say that he’s great at spinning questions in his favor. Take, for example, his response to a question about why he didn’t go to the Oscars. “I don’t have a tuxedo that fits anymore because my chest and my biceps are too big.” Sure Charlie. Of course they are.