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NEW YORK – When Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton joined Charlie Sheen on stage at the actor’s second Radio City Music Hall show in NYC Sunday, the audience went wild. So, how did the unlikely collaboration come about?
After he was booed off stage in Detroit, Sheen and his team decided to bring an Inside the Actors Studio-type feel to the stage, and Sheen invited Lipton to attend the show, Lipton told THR in a telephone interview Monday.
Ahead of Sheen's NYC visit, Lipton told THR, "I got a message through one of his managers, who is a friend of ours, and Charlie said, ‘Would you please come and see the show? I want you to see it.’"
Lipton - who said he became “very good friends” with Sheen after interviewing him on Inside the Actors Studio more than three years ago - agreed to go.
But he said he wasn’t supposed to join the actor on stage. "Neither he nor I planned it, and neither he nor I expected it," Lipton told THR.
During the show, Sheen began introducing people in the audience, including athlete Darryl Strawberry.
When Sheen called out Lipton’s name, Lipton recalled, “The audience made a big fuss," adding that they behaved more like a wrestling than a theater crowd. "And they began to yell for me to go to the stage. ‘On the stage! On the stage! Lipton on the stage!’”
Sheen suggested Lipton come to the stage for one question. "I wasn't about to say, ‘Go to hell!’ It would have caused a small riot, and also as I said, I like him as a friend,” Lipton said.
On stage, Lipton asked Sheen to name his favorite cuss word. (Sheen’s reply? "F**k" or "Denise" - a reference to ex Denise Richards.)
After the show, Lipton said he spent time with Sheen backstage, “because he is a friend." And Sheen was “exactly the person that I had known on my show - which is very different from that persona on stage,” said Lipton.
Lipton and his wife also joined Sheen and his entourage at Strawberry's restaurant later that night. The group stayed until 2:30 a.m.
“Charlie at the restaurant was precisely the guy I know and radically different from the one on the stage," Lipton noted.
Lipton said he and Sheen “talked about everything. He was concerned that the show was OK in the first half, but not in the second. He talked about the fact that when he opened that Friday in Detroit it was a disaster. He made no bones about it.”
Lipton said he feels “it's wrong” to call Sheen’s recent behavior and shows “an act.”
Sheen “has elected to play out these tensions - and he clearly has them – on stage in front of the world,” Lipton said. “It's like performance art. If you have seen performance art, you know it sometimes doesn't make sense. And it is very difficult to watch or to follow."
As for Sheen’s future, Lipton said, "He has begun to say on stage that he wants to go back to Two and a Half Men, and I really think he's serious about that. I think once we get past this point, they probably will bring him back. He is a remarkable actor. There are few comedic actors who are as skilled as he is."
First, Lipton said Sheen “has to work himself back into a normal life."
Lipton, who has no plans to have Sheen on Inside the Actors Studio anytime soon, said the actor seemed completely sober Sunday night, but he had one complaint.
"I wish he wouldn't smoke,” Lipton said. “I never said it to him, but that's what will get him before anything else. He smokes like a chimney."