Why Does Charlie Sheen Still Have a Job?

Last Updated Feb 4, 2011 3:42 PM EST


A few weeks ago, Charlie Sheen got so busy with a gaggle of, ahem, adult actresses, that he ended up with a hernia. After a lengthy string of public personal woes - sparring with his estranged wife Brooke Mueller in Aspen over Christmas '09, trashing a room at the Plaza hotel, and the most recent drug and alcohol fueled debacle in LA - his image has taken a few hits.

But CBS (which, by the way, owns MoneyWatch) has stood by its prime-time star as he enters rehab at home. And heck, why wouldn't they? The guy is making them squillions with Two and a Half Men, the top-rated sitcom on TV.

But what can a regular Joe or Jill like you do if you have slightly similar issues that become public - whether it be a contentious divorce or your kid getting arrested for marijuana? I asked communications consultant Mark Jeffries whether there were any good tips that we can take from bad boy Charlie.

Keep It Out of the Office
Unlike Lindsay Lohan, Sheen wasn't showing up to work late and hungover. And that counts, whether you actually are hungover or just sad about your imploding marriage. "As long as his personal work does not adversely affect his TV product, his employers seem to have no problem with it," says Jeffries.

Since Sheen's character is a guy who loves prostitutes and booze, he's not far from being a walking advertisement. "What you want to do is carefully cultivate your brand at work - always asking yourself: How do I want to be seen?" says Jeffries.

Know Your Company
In the entertainment industry, by and large, all PR is good PR. (There are a few exceptions - we're talking to you, Mel Gibson.) Ratings for Two and a Half Men actually rose after that little Plaza Hotel incident.

But these things often boil down to culture and context. Is your work culture pretty lax about moral transgressions, such as the occasional party animal moment? Then you may be in luck. But most managers will want to know that, in addition to staying focused on work, you're not going to become a legal liability. Dancing on tables is one thing; a DUI is another.

Money Matters
CBS is making bank off of Sheen, and it appears that as long as the show's a hit, they'll keep him on - even if it means delaying production to get him healthy. Ultimately, no one is indispensable - but the more you can show your direct contribution to the bottom line, the safer you'll be.

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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