Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Day 2: Charles in Charge

by Richard Schwartz

I had waited for more than an hour now. Bruce and Demi had not yet shown. I figured Bruce was still standing in front of the mirror in his Majestic suite, debating whether a scarf or a hat would better compensate for his follicle deficiency.

We -- the gawking onlookers crowding around the new Planet Hollywood Cannes wishing to get a glimpse of a star, any star -- had been here a long time now. The rastafarian gentleman selling cheap plastic sunglasses had made the rounds four times already. Just as impatience was threatening to overtake my will, there was a buzz in the crowd. Bruce? Demi? Sly? Michael?

None of the above. Try Charlie Sheen. Correction. Charles Sheen, star of the new release "Bad Day on the Block," certainly not a contender for Un Certain Regard and likely to already be appearing as an in-flight movie by the time I leave France next week.

Aw, go easy on Marty Sheen's kid, right? He's turned in decent performances in the past (see "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Major League"). Even "Hot Shots" was alright. And he's not his brother Emilio, which might be enough right there.

But please let me digress, let me wax Sheen (I think that's something Heidi Fleiss did as well) for just a moment. The guy was always on the fringe of the Brat Pack. A little too young, never made a definitive 'packer flick like "The Breakfast Club" or "St. Elmo's Fire." He missed his great chance at climbing to the next level when his "big co-starring break," the Clint Eastwood vehicle "The Rookie," bombed. This all probably left him a bit embittered, especially when the best offers that crossed his agent's table were dreck like "Cadence" and that UFO movie from last year whose title keeps eluding my memory.

So Charlie tried some notorious stunts to gain attention. Like renting out the entire left field bleachers during a California Angels home game in hopes of catching a home run ball, but in greater hopes of making the ten o'clock sportscast. Like his aforementioned $57,000 soiree with Ms. Fleiss and her girls, following which Charlie took the stand to testify in hopes of injecting some new blood into his career a la Hugh Grant. Like his conversion to born-again Christianity and subsequent divorce. Nothing seemed to work.

Cut to his agent's office: "Charlie, Chas, may I call you Chuck? Hey, babe, this name thing is just wrong. 'Charlie.' It's just too... well, it sounds juvenile. You're grown up now. Look what a name change did for James (formerly Jim) Belushi and Lawrence (formerly Larry) Fishburne. It's time for a change."

Which is essentially what the "new" *Charles* Sheen told a reporter tonight when stopped on his entrance to the Planet Hollywood party. "It's a change for the better... I'm a new man... blah-blah." And then he pushed me out of the way so he could climb over a metal barrier and go sip 80-franc margaritas with Jean Paul Gautier.

Ah, showbiz.

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