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Hollywood: Charlie Sheen, working-class hero

Charlie Sheen In times of crisis, America has always been fortunate to have great leaders step forward.

Now, with several states engulfed in labor strife, such a leader has arisen to stand for the working man.

Charlie Sheen.

Tired of not being sufficiently coddled, the star of CBS' "Two and a Half Men" fought back this week. Like the abused coal miners and longshoremen and Teamsters of years past, he just wasn't gonna take it anymore.

Now, true, as a leader, Sheen is cut more in the mold of, say, Libya's Moammar Kadafi. Witness the letter he wrote attacking the executive producer of "Two and a Half Men": (His reference to "Haim Levine" is an apparent slur against Chuck Lorre, who was born Charles Michael Levine.)

"What does this say about Haim Levine after he tried to use his words to judge and attempt to degrade me? I gracefully ignored this folly for 177 shows. I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can't handle my power and can't handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels especially if they wind up in my octagon. Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words -- imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists. I urge all my beautiful and loyal fans who embraced this show for almost a decade to walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable wrong."

But tell me you don't hear an echo of the pugnacious Jimmy Hoffa in that? Which is not to suggest that Sheen should end up like Hoffa, buried in an end zone somewhere. (Also, don't forget that Sheen may be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, brought on by his role in the Vietnam War movie "Platoon.")

And, yes, Sheen's tirade did get his show canceled, which cost about 200 staffers their jobs. But hey, you can't make a revolutionary labor omelet without breaking some eggs.

Besides, it's not like Sheen isn't sacrificing: The star is giving up an estimated $2 million an episode. That's likely to put a severe crimp in his Moet & Chandon plus porn starlet lifestyle.

And I would say that this is more of a lockout than a strike, as Sheen told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday that he plans to show up for work. 

Admittedly, it's a little odd for someone to come to work when they're not supposed to -- after they've gotten in trouble for not coming to work when they were supposed to.

But hey, in Sheen's octagon, that's pretty normal. 

My hope is that Sheen will take his fire-breathing fists to Wisconsin. There, maybe he can defeat another earthworm, er, governor, Scott Walker, who -– by cutting taxes to create a budget crisis so he could bust the unions -– proved that he lives in his own octagon.


Hollywood: Banksy redefines the Oscar campaign

Entertainment: Long Beach, the chameleon by the sea

Hollywood: Lindsay Lohan, you're no Farrah Fawcett

Entertainment: Iowa's dashed field of dreams

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Charlie Sheen in Los Angeles. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (10)

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Another jewish journalist with an axe to grind? So calling Charlie "Carlos" would be anti-latino? Paul, the true travesty is that no one reads your work.

Dave Whitefield


It seems you always manage to bring out the worst in your (non)readers!

I'm always eager to learn though, and am truly amazed to learn from Hymie that "Whitefield" is Jewish. Who knew?

No wonder I was so confused all those years attending the Methodist Church!

Hang tough, Whitefieldstein!


As usual the LA Times proves it is incapable of printing the truth about ANYTHING.

The tax breaks that allegedly broke the budget's back in Wisconsin don't take effect until 2012.


Hey, Joe, what year's budget do you think they're working on?


This 'journalist' is not only off-base, but clearly condescends to 'working-class' people. This is 'classism' at it's worst. As a NY psychoanalyst said to me years ago: 'most cabbies know more about opera than most opera-goers'...today we could say more about the mideast situation than most professors, more about human nature than most counselors, etc etc. And let's not forget all those well educated working-class 'servers' in our tony restaurants, many of whom hold advanced degrees in theatre, drama, music, voice, literature, writing. Then there are the myriad police, firefighter, nurse, EMT personnel who hold baccalaureates from solid to prestigious colleges/universities. Or the guy like my neighbor, who holds graduate degrees from Yale but is a boatwright. I could go on (obviously!) but with what reason? Supercilious pseudo-intellects remain what they are. Charlie Sheen is a profoundly disturbed man who is getting a lot of attention but is not receiving the medical care he needs...he's autodestructing with no one stepping in to stop it. As for the author: go reread Walt Whitman.


This writer should be fired.


Dave--I wish your piece were a bit more focused on the main point: A bunch of grips, gaffers and, yes, writers have to go home and explain to their kids that they lost their jobs because a self-absorbed Hollywood nitwit couldn't stay off the powder.

Mitchell Young

"I'm always eager to learn though, and am truly amazed to learn from Hymie that "Whitefield" is Jewish. Who knew? "

Be a mensch-- admit it was 'Weissfeld' when you guys were born : )

Jay Michelsen

Half the fun of reading your witty commentary on the American existence is the certain insanity of your detractors.


"Sheen's tirade did get his show canceled"

No, his producers canceled it instead; they could have continued, but decided not to for their own reasons. Now they will be forced to answer to their advertisers for their decision. That won't be pretty. Look forward to this show returning after the advertisers and network execs have put the screws to the producers to restart the cash flow the show generates; this was never about the health of Charlie $heen...



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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