Charlie Sheen raises the stakes on celebrity meltdowns

Charlie Sheen has called himself a drug, a warlock, and a winner, but in fact he's a 24-hour news network. Launched earlier this week on radio show, and now extending to major media outlets, Sheen's one-man-show keeps raising the stakes.

On Monday alone, he's been on ABC, NBC and TMZ regurgitating the same LARPing language of warlock wizardry. He's also threatening violence, repeating the word "winning" obsessively, claiming his hit show's backers are trying to destroy his family, complaining about his money woes, threatening to sue Warner Bros for millions, asking for a million dollar raise, and losing his long time publicist who quit today.

It may be the worst celebrity meltdown ever; it's definitely the most public one. Tom Cruise jumping on a couch feels so, well, 2006. In this era of non-stop streaming media, Sheen needs to keep making news and taking interviews to stay a trending topic minute-to-minute. His current addiction, as an article in The New York Times points out, is saying his peace to the world. His peace sounds pretty hostile, though.

He's bashed his bosses at CBS, calling them "trolls" and "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre, a "retarded zombie." He's called AA a "cult" and even raged against dad Martin Sheen for saying he's sick. In Monday morning's interview with NBC (above), he said CBS should be "licking my feet," adding that he feels "like some sucker getting shanked in the yard." He also has said he intends to use "violent hatred" to wage war on his bosses.

Dr. Drew believes he is having an "acute manic episode". Other mental health professionals are backing bipolar claims and wondering if his brain's deteriorated after years of drug abuse. Whether he's back on drugs (he says he's not, but he says a lot of things), in throes of a manic episode, or in his own words just "winning", Sheen is hooked on the attention.

But by Monday night, his various rants all seemed the same. As a TV star, he knows how fickle audiences can be and he knows he's rewarded with attention each time he tops himself. Right now he's threatening violence, so are actions next? And when will we stop paying attention?

It's hard to turn away from the unprecedented access Sheen has given viewers over the past few days. But as he spins out of control, he's creating addicts in us of all. On ABC World News last night, a segment about Sheen's bizarre interview today was followed by a tease about another segment on the network's morning show the next day. More Sheen, this time inside his home, surrounded by porn stars still ranting about his predilection for violence. It's the kind of ratings-rocket programming Charlie Sheen is used to making. And because of Sheen, ABC, not CBS, will probably win this morning's ratings wars. Winning. It's not everything.

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