Charlie and the CBS Factory (and other news)
by Walter Brasch
There has been a lot in the news this past week.
Most important, if measured by getting most of the ink and air time, is the continuing soap opera, “Charlie and the CBS Factory.”
The latest in a seemingly never-ending story is that after Charlie Sheen melted down, was fired, and spread himself to every known television talk show, declaring himself to be a winner and announcing a $100 million forthcoming law suit against CBS for breech of contract, the president of CBS announced he wanted Sheen back in “Two and a Half Men.”
Details are to be worked out. CBS said it would work with creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre and producing studio Warner Brothers, The relationship among Sheen, Warner Bros., Lorre, and most of the cast and crew may be a bit more difficult since Sheen’s warm-and-friendly on-air persona didn’t match his vitriolic attacks upon his co-stars and anti-Semitic remarks about Lorre.
CBS probably wouldn’t be as eager to bring Sheen back if the show wasn’t the best-rated comedy on the schedule. The SitCom brings in about $2.89 million in advertising revenue per show, about $63 million per season. A ninth and possibly final season also makes it even more lucrative for all the parties when the show goes into full syndication.
The boozing, possibly drug-induced self-destructive Sheen earns about $1.8 million an episode. In contrast, Mark Harmon, star of “NCIS,” the top-rated scripted show on TV, and also broadcast by CBS, is paid about $400,000 per episode, the same as any of the “Desperate Housewives,” according to TV Guide. In contrast to Sheen, Harmon is happily married, and his professional and personal lives have been devoid of scandal.
Also devoid of scandal, except for an adulterous affair and subsequent marriage to Richard Burton, was Elizabeth Taylor, one of the greatest film actresses, who died at 79 from congestive heart failure. Unlike Sheen and dozens of sub-par actresses, Taylor set the standard for both acting and a social conscience, being one of the first major celebrities to support not only AIDS education but the victims of the disease at a time when it could have been career-damaging to do so. She won numerous awards, including two Oscars for her acting. But, her most important honor may have been a special Oscar for her humanitarian work, proving her beauty was far more than skin deep.
But, there were still other stories this past week.
● Barry Bonds is in trial, charged with lying about taking steroids. He acknowledges taking steroids but was never told what they were by his trainers. Don’t Congress and the federal judiciary system have far more important things to worry about than baseball players who do or don’t take steroids? How much money has already been spent by Congressional investigations and the subsequent trial that could very well, according to several impartial legal experts, result in a minimal sentence or no sentence at all?
● Because of the disaster in Japan, a few hundred million Americans are now concerned about problems of nuclear energy. When America’s nukes were being planted throughout the country in the ’70s and ’80s, these were the same Americans who bought into all the propaganda about how “clean” and how “safe” nuclear power is. More important, these were some of the same people who not only disregarded but mocked those who, with facts, disputed the claims of the power companies.
● Two passenger jetliners landed at Reagan National Airport without air traffic controller assistance. The lone controller may have been asleep. That, alone, is bad enough, but there are greater issues not being discussed in the media. In one of the busiest airports, one located in the nation’s capital, and with the government well aware that air traffic control is one of the most stressful jobs, why was there only one controller on duty?
● The U.S. launched about $175 million worth of Tomahawk missiles into Lybia this past week. Perhaps another $100–$300 million was spent on tactical operations. President Obama told us the reason for the attack, supported by the UN, was because dictator Muammar Khadafi was attacking civilians in his country. If that’s the reason for the attack, why has the U.S. military been silent on the ethnic slaughter in Darfur/the Sudan? Why have there been no attacks on Iran, North Korea, or other dictatorships that suppress the rights of people? Is it because Libya has more strategic importance, and oil, for the U.S. than Darfur? A more important question is why are we attacking a country in a civil war? Khadafi’s attacks upon rebels may be harsh, but he’s protecting his country. Apparently we learned nothing from the war in Viet Nam. What if England invaded the U.S. on behalf of the Confederates or France provided military assistance to President Lincoln during our own Civil War?
● Finally, labor has come under intense attacks the past couple of months. Wisconsin has eliminated collective bargaining, against the largest protests since the Viet Nam war. Other Republican-controlled states are in full battle gear. And, in Maine, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has proven that he cares nothing about the working class when he ordered murals of workers taken down from the halls of the Department of Labor. He claimed, without providing any proof, that some businessmen said the panels, which have no political theme, just depictions of workers, was anti-business. But, no matter what radical conservatives believe, about two-thirds of Americans still believe in collective bargaining, even if they aren’t in unions, according to several recent national polls.
[Walter Brasch has been a journalist and editor for 40 years, covering everything from PTA meetings to the White House and federal court system. His forthcoming book, Before the First Snow, looks at the problems of the nuclear power industry. The book is available for pre-order at amazon.com ]