Charlie Sheen talks to ABC News' Andrea Canning in Los Angeles. (Reuters )
The Charlie Sheen saga took several more turns toward the sad and strange Monday as the troubled star of "Two and a Half Men" went on an all-day media blitz in which he compared himself to "a warlock," ratcheted up legal threats against his employers, and saw his longtime publicist quit.
During an exhaustive series of interviews that included "Good Morning America," "The Today Show," the E! network, CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," and the celebrity gossip site TMZ, the 45-year-old actor displayed more of the bizarre behavior that led to last week's suspension of the season's remaining eight episodes.
Overshadowing the networks' morning-after Oscar coverage, Sheen headlined on programs that aired from morning until night, explaining that his body runs on "tiger blood," that he's survived "banging seven-gram rocks," and that he wanted to start a new line of cologne. He also continued attacking "Two and a Half Men" executive producer Chuck Lorre, calling him "a retarded zombie" at one point. He even boasted about his favorite drug.
"It's called Charlie Sheen," said one of the highest paid actors in television. "It's not available because if you try it once you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body."
Meanwhile, Sheen also brought out the legal guns against CBS and Warner Bros., which make "Two and a Half Men." In a five-page letter posted by Radaronline.com, Sheen's attorney Marty Singer, a well-known celebrity lawyer, said his client is sober and ready to work but that CBS and Warner Bros. shut it down last week "in retaliation for your show runner (Lorre) being criticized."
The letter threatens the companies with a lawsuit if Sheen isn't paid the full amount for his deal that expires in May 2012. Sheen — whose entry into rehab forced the series into hiatus last month — last week called Lorre "a clown."
Singer wrote that his client was simply responding to Lorre's own put-downs. "Mr. Lorre has repeatedly made negative and derogatory comments about our client and harassed Mr. Sheen on the set," Singer wrote.
Spokesmen for Warner Bros. and CBS confirmed that they received the letter but declined to comment further.
During his media spree, Sheen blamed the "psychological distress" he'd suffered at the hands of CBS for his admittedly less than normal appearance and tone. He even demanded an apology from the network — "a big one, publicly, while licking my feet."
If CBS wanted him back, Sheen said, they'd have to raise his salary from roughly $2 million to $3 million per episode. "I'm underpaid right now," he told NBC's Jeff Rossen. "I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special. I'm tired of pretending like I'm not bitchin', a total … rock star from Mars." (During the Piers Morgan interview Monday evening, however, Sheen backed off the monetary demand and said it was all "negotiable.")
Despite the tirades, Sheen insisted he was sober. Even so, he again assailed the "fiction" of Alcoholics Anonymous and its "5% success rate," and maintained that he was healing himself at home. "I close my eyes and make it so with the power of my mind," he said.
"This reached a crescendo when they closed the show down for the rest of the season, and now it's like he doesn't know when to exit the stage," said Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture and television at Syracuse University.
Thompson compared Sheen's implosion to Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, both of whom have battled well publicized scandals. "At least with Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, the tapes that incriminated them were gathered surreptitiously," he said. "Sheen keeps making these calls to radio stations himself. All of a sudden the idea of that charming cad Charlie has started to fade. Now there's this real sense of pity."
Under these circumstances, Thompson said, "I think it's very unlikely that 'Two and a Half Men' will come back."
Monday's tirades from Sheen prompted the resignation of Sheen's publicist, Stan Rosenfield, who announced that he's parting ways with his client. "I have worked with Charlie Sheen for a long time and I care about him very much," Rosenfield said in a statement on Monday. "However, at this time, I'm unable to work effectively as his publicist and have respectfully resigned."
On "Piers Morgan," Sheen asked Rosenfield to return to work for him. Later during that same interview, the actor conceded that he should have taken a different approach to address his workplace grievances.
"Maybe I should have been a little quieter, a little softer," Sheen told Morgan.