Richard Roeper Blog

Is 7th comeback the charm for Charlie Sheen?

The TV promos leading up to last Sunday’s game between the Falcons and Eagles played up Michael Vick’s return to Atlanta, home of his former team. Ooh, the drama!

Of course, those promos left out the details about Vick’s departure from the Falcons, e.g., trading in his No. 7 jersey for a prison uniform after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with a cruel dogfighting ring.

This wasn’t exactly Brett Favre returning to Green Bay to face the Packers as QB for the Vikings, or LeBron James coming back to Cleveland in a Miami Heat uniform. This was a guy who had left town in one of the more shameful episodes in NFL history.

But Vick’s done his time and I fully support his return to the NFL. He deserves a second chance just like anyone else. That his second chance includes an $80 million contract and thousands of young fans sporting his jersey just shows you we’re more sports-crazed than ever before.

Just as strong as the appetite to see the mighty fall is the desire to see the fallen rise again. We’re a surprisingly forgiving bunch. Whether it’s Eliot Spitzer getting a talk show, Roman Polanski winning an Oscar, Kobe Bryant starring in commercials or Robert Downey Jr. becoming one of the most popular stars in Hollywood, you can have some seriously scandalous stuff in your rearview mirror and still climb your way back to the top.

Unless you’re Pee-Wee Herman. Pee-Wee, we hardly knew ye.

(Yes, I know Paul Reubens is working here and there and even brought Pee-Wee back to Broadway — but we seem to have had a more difficult time forgiving Reubens’ onanistic transgression than we have with much more egregious acts committed by other celebrities. Mike Tyson’s a convicted rapist, and he’s on his way to becoming a cuddly character in movies and on TV.)

Should we be surprised at Charlie Sheen’s Comeback Tour?

Only if we didn’t pay attention to the comeback stories of Rob Lowe, Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Grant, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Josh Hamilton, Plaxico Burress, Ben Roethlisberger, Tiger Woods and dozens of other celebrities who weathered scandal and either thrived or at least were welcomed back into the spotlight.

Winner winner comeback dinner

Charlie Sheen’s track record includes then-fiancee Kelly Preston getting accidentally shot in the arm; affairs with two generations of porn stars, from Ginger Lynn to Bree Olson; an overdose from a self-injection of cocaine; admitting to being a star client of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss; bitter custody disputes with ex-wives; a guilty plea to misdemeanor assault, and of course the public meltdown that led to him getting fired from “Two and a Half Men” and going on one of the most bizarre tours in the history of “entertainment.”

The debacle that was Sheen’s appearance at the Chicago Theatre wasn’t even six months ago. Those of us who attended saw a guy who looked like he was knocking on death’s door as he chain-smoked cigarettes and rambled on incoherently about his vendettas against the “Two and a Half Men” team and his ex-wives.

Fast forward to September — and there’s a cleaned-up Charlie Sheen everywhere, making amends on the “Tonight Show” and on the Emmys and on the talk-show circuit. (And angling for a reported $25 million settlement from his former show.) For a guy who was so dismissive of AA, he sure seems to be going through some kind of multistep process, whether it’s self-motivated or with the help of a program.

All that hateful talk about “Two and a Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre, including insults about his children? Leading audiences to chant “F – – – that bitch!” about Denise Richards, mother of two of his children? Bringing the so-called “goddesses” into the lives of his younger children, until even those two bimbos wised up and flew the coop? Lashing out at his family, claiming he could cure his addictions with the snap of his fingers? Forget all that madness! Charlie’s back on Planet Earth, laughing it up at a Comedy Central roast, making jokes at his own expense on “The Tonight Show,” sincerely wishing the best to everyone involved with the new “Two and a Half Men.”

He’s setting the stage for the second act of his career.

For about the seventh time.

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