Interesting TV Guide interview with Chuck Lorre that'll be on the stands Thursday: The "Two and a Half Men" creator talks about Charlie Sheen and how it all fell apart. Hard what to make of this interview and why it's running now, but there are some major tidbits here: He says he was afraid Sheen was going to die, and that he attempted to intervene all the time. He also said he "offered to quit the show last winter. I said, ‘Listen, if for some reason I’m now the Antichrist, I’m happy to leave. It’s not in my interest to stop the show, and I certainly don’t want to put all these people out of work. Keep going. Get another guy. Don’t stop on my account.’ ”
(Meanwhile, the question -- "if you knew there was a drug problem all these years why didn't you get Warner Bros. and CBS to do something about it fast?" -- doesn't appear anywhere that I saw. Nor does Lorre address what seemed to be the biggest problem: that Sheen launched an ad hominen attack against him, which prompted the firing.) Anway, take a look...
On firing Charlie Sheen: "The [studio and the network] chose to make a moral decision as opposed to a financial one. This was not a game. This was drug addiction writ large. This was big-time cocaine, and in his own words, an 'epic drug run' that could have ended with either his death or someone else's."
On giving Two and a Half Men an extreme makeover by bringing in a new star: "I thought, why not find out if we can do it? If we failed, what have we failed at? Making a sitcom? Then it became exciting. We got to do something none of us ever dreamed of doing: We got to end a series and start a new series in 20 minutes."
On referencing Charlie Sheen during this season of Two and a Half Men: "To not deal with it felt like a cheat. The unbelievably public nature of this debacle is part of our legacy now. It happened, and the dividing line between Charlie Harper and Charlie Sheen is forever blurred."
On how things spun out of control with Charlie Sheen: "He was a great friend and partner for eight years. And every time he got himself into trouble, we believed that there was healing that was going to come. I certainly believed that sobriety is something that he wants in his life, and I was wrong."
On trying to intervene: "We intervened all the time. I was so afraid my friend was going to die. When we would shoot a show on a Friday night, there was always that 'I'll see you Monday. I hope.' The holidays were the worst, because those long stretches of time were the ones we feared the most."
On his decision to shut the show down: "I didn't want to be writing a sitcom while my friend died. Or worse, hurt someone else. We couldn't be complacent. There was a tragedy unfolding right in front of us. There was violence and blackouts. On a certain level, if you're looking the other way, you're responsible." "You couldn't do that much cocaine and work. It was falling apart. It was heartbreaking to be around here then."
On being afraid that Charlie would retaliate against him: "It's a long road from being a sitcom writer to really recognizing that you might be in jeopardy. I was looking over my shoulder."
On Charlie's personal attacks against him in the press, including making an issue out of Lorre's 13-year sobriety: "That broke my heart, too. I thought we were on the same road together. I mean, we held hands and prayed when his sons were born premature. There's that element of Charlie [that's] admirable, and he was the kind of guy you wanted to hang out with. He was a special guy. But bottom line, special guys are not immune to drug addiction."
On his feelings about Charlie today: "Bottom line, I hope he's happy, I hope he's healthy. I hope he's able to be there for his kids."