When is a first TV interview with a troubled celebrity not so great a score?
When the celebrity is Charlie Sheen.
ABC's "20/20" landed the first TV interview with Sheen on Saturday, but much of it felt stale by the time it aired in its entirety Tuesday. The network had already aired excerpts on "Good Morning America" during a Sheen media blitz in which he also talked to NBC and CNN, among others.
Among the details offered Tuesday were Sheen saying he was kidding when he said some people can handle crack "socially," and telling his father, Martin Sheen, to "back off with your judgment" for comparing his son's addiction fight to cancer. (In a previous interview, with Radar, he had told his father to "shut it.")
Sheen also praised his longtime publicist, Stan Rosenfield, who quit Monday, two days after the interview was taped. "Stan's great, Stan's beautiful. He's a beautiful man and I always want to just hug him and rub his head. But he can't always get a hold of me …"
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Asked by interviewer Andrea Canning if Rosenfield ever made things up to provide reasonable explanations for Sheen's bizarre behavior, the actor said no.
She later asked Sheen what would be on his tombstone, to which he responded, "Something dot com."
The show also provided a look at Sheen's home life — or at least what he was willing to show "20/20."
His day began with him working out, and joking, "I'm coming for you, Warner Bros." — Warner Bros TV. produces his show — before self-deprecatingly adding, "let me just catch my breath first."
Viewers then saw Sheen's girlfriends, who he calls his "goddesses," playing and looking after his twin boys, two of his five children.
But there was little in terms of news, at least for anyone who has followed Sheen's other appearances this week. Some remarks, including, "I am on a drug, it's called Charlie Sheen," already felt like familiar catchphrases after they appeared in several days of promos.
The lag between taping and airtime was a major disadvantage for ABC: Two days constitute an eternity in the fast-moving world of TV's highest-paid and arguably most motor-mouthed actor.
Between Saturday and Tuesday, his saga saw at least one story arise and resolve itself: Sheen demanded $3 million an episode to return to "Two and a Half Men" in an interview with NBC's "Today" that aired Monday, but he backed down that night on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
Almost everything Sheen said had aired before on ABC, including Sheen's assertion that he smoked "seven gram rocks" of cocaine the last time he did drugs, and that his partying made "made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards all of them just look like, you know, droopy-eyed armless children."
"Good Morning America" had also previously aired Sheen's sarcastic apology to "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre and Sheen's threats to sue the show.
Many viewers were also already familiar with the girlfriends, a porn star who uses the name Bree Olsen and a marijuana-magazine pinup who goes by Natty Baby. And those who tuned in to "Good Morning America" Monday had already heard him say Sean Penn, Mel Gibson and Colin Farrell had called him to offer their support.
But there were some extended answers to questions that had aired before, including one about whether there were still any drugs in Sheen's house. He said he had done a sweep, but couldn't be sure the house was drug-free: "There's a trillion places for a million things to hide."
ABC cut from that answer to a shot of Sheen sitting with his twins and "the goddesses" — a juxtaposition obviously meant to drive home concerns about the childrens' safety. It was also supposed to remind us that Sheen's life is crazy.
But we already knew that.