Networks Defend Coverage of Charlie Sheen

 20/20:ABC

How much is too much Charlie Sheen?

Critics are going after NBC and ABC and other outlets for touting two interviews with the troubled actor, 45, last week.
 
Julie Moos of the Poynter Institute has said that "the coverage has become excessive, even dangerous," while Kansas City Star TV critic Aaron Barnhart wrote that the media should stop returning Sheen's texts and calls, and instead should be "using their journalism to identify the people around Charlie who can actually get him into a rehab facility — against his will if necessary."
 
But ABC's Andrea Canning told media critic Howard Kurtz on CNN Sunday, "I don’t know if you can really stop the train once people are this interested in it."
 
Asked if the actor, 45, has had enough time in front of the camera, she said. “You know, I still think he has some things to say.”
 
Her interview with Sheen scored 20/20 its highest ratings in more than two years.
 
ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said the coverage was warranted: “Look, Charlie Sheen is the highest paid actor on TV's top comedy show, whose personal life has been a huge topic of conversation for months. He also clearly had an interest in being interviewed and getting his side of the story out.”
 
NBC booking producer Katie Distler echoed those sentiments in her producer's notebook: “Love or hate the coverage, the entire nation has been captivated by Sheen.”
 
Distler also reveals the week of work it took to nab Sheen, who originally only wanted to do interviews with ABC – and for good reason. “Charlie said this was business – all part of his ‘master plan’ to ‘hijack the Oscars,’” she said. “In order to do that, he said, he had to appear on the network that HAD the Oscars: ABC.”
 
She said she was able to convince Sheen to ditch his high-jacking plan and appear on NBC.
 
After her experience, she said, “Watching Charlie laugh at himself, I realized this is truly a man with a plan – as crazy as he may come off during these interviews – he knows exactly what he’s doing.”
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