Thursday February 8, 2018

Michael Strahan is dating an ex-con?

Coverage of the Winter Olympics begins tonight.

The second season of Imposters, premieres April 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The Bravo drama tracks a con artist and three of her most recent, heart-broken victims. Uma Thurman will return to her guest role as fixer Lenny Cohen. The series stars Inbar Lavi, Rob Heaps, Parker Young, Marianne Rendón, Brian Benben, and Stephen Bishop. Adam Brooks and Paul Adelstein serve as executive producers. 

Celebrity Big Brother is even WORSE than advertised.

"Ahead of the launch of Joel McHale's new Netflix topical show The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, the streaming giant is setting the weekly series' first guests. The premiere episode, which will debut on the platform Sunday, Feb. 18, will welcome Kevin Hart as a guest, with appearances by Alison Brie, Mike Colter, Paul Reiser, Jodie Sweetin and Jim Rash. From the former host of The Soup, the show will take a sharp, absurdist look at pop culture, as well as news around the world."

More Altered Carbon fodder.

"CBS has ordered a comedy pilot that will be executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg that hails from Hilary Winston, Variety has learned. Titled 25, the hybrid comedy follows twenty-something Kyle who comes to Austin to finally convince his old best friend from camp they are perfect for each other. Unfortunately, she just got engaged. A lot of guys would give up, but Kyle is not one of those guys. To Kyle’s surprise, even though he came to town looking for 'the one,' he might end up with much more than that."

"The theme of the upcoming Survivor: Ghost Island (premiering Feb. 28 on CBS) is that new players can use old items from seasons past. And these items are not mere replicas, but the actual original items originally seen in their original season. That also means that the actual Ghost Island location will act as the first full fledged Survivor museum, with 82 different items (you can see the full list here) from yesteryear making their way back to the island. 'These are the real items and getting them was not always easy,' says host Jeff Probst. 'When somebody opens up an idol or an advantage, they are going to be holding that exact idol that the player misplayed. So it could be as recently as last season and it could be as far back as a decade ago.' That means producers had to track down the items from various people and places since they first appeared, which brings up an interesting question: What happens to the items after the season is over? For instance, if Andrea Boehlke’s unused hidden immunity idol from Caramoan is used by a new player this season, who gets to keep it later? We asked Probst exactly that and were assured that any newbies who come into possession of one of these relics will merely be borrowing it for the show. 'We have made an agreement that all items will be returned to their original owner,' says Probst."

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, "Pauly D, JWoww, Vinny, Ronnie, Snooki and The Situation are bringing the Jersey shore to Miami on April 5.

"MTV announced the premiere date — and a return to Thursday nights, reviving 'Jerzdays' — along with a first look at the gang's highly anticipated TV reunionJersey Shore Family Vacation, on Wednesday. In hopes of getting viewers pumped for the revival, the Viacom-owned cable network revealed a peek at the new beach backdrop for the vacation spinoff, following a social media campaign that asked the audience to submit their picks using the hashtag #JSFAMILYVACATION.

"Original housemates Paul 'Pauly D' Delvecchio, Jenni 'JWOWW' Farley, Vinny Guadagnino, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi and Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino return, along with Deena Nicole Cortese, for "the vacation of a lifetime," promises MTV. Sammi 'Sweetheart' Giancola is the only original star not returning.

"When Jersey Shore Family Vacation launches — five years after the breakout reality hit went off the air — it will mark MTV's first global premiere and will debut across Viacom’s international network in nearly 180 countries. After launching the Shore franchise around the world, MTV debuted U.S. spinoff Floribama Shore in late November, giving the network its highest-rated new series premiere in over three years.

"The original Jersey Shore ran for six seasons on MTV and ranked as one of the cabler's highest-rated series. An episode count for Family Vacation has not yet been announced.

"Jersey Shore Family Vacation is executive produced by creator SallyAnn Salsano (who also exec produces Floribama Shore) and her 495 Productions banner."

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Per Deadline, "CBS in entering the talent competition arena with a series pickup for The World’s Best. It hails from reality TV heavyweights Mark Burnett and Mike Darnell, the forces behind two of the biggest talent competition reality series of the current unscripted wave, The Voice and American Idol. Burnett is executive producing NBC’s The Voice, which is overseen by Darnell at Warner Horizon, while, in his role as head of reality at Fox, Darnell developed and launched American Idoland steered the show for its first 12 seasons.

"The World’s Best, which had been in the works for awhile, is described as a first-of-its-kind global talent competition that features acts from every genre imaginable, from every corner of the planet. They not only have to impress American judges, but will also need to break through the 'wall of the world,' featuring 50 of the world’s most accomplished experts from every field of entertainment. The winning act will ultimately be crowned The World’s Best.

“'This is a unique, original format with global scale led by two of the most accomplished producers on television,' said Sharon Vuong, CBS’ SVP, Alternative Programming. 'Mike and Mark are not only the very top producers in the genre, but they also understand how to create compelling competition and build enduring franchises.'

"CBS, which found early reality success with adventure competition series Survivor and The Amazing Race as well as the voyeuristic Big Brother, has largely stayed away from the shiny floor/talent competition genre. Notably, its biggest previous effort in the arena, Rock Star, which ran for two seasons, came from Burnett, who also serves as president of MGM Television and Digital Group.

“'The time has come to take talent competition shows to the next level and bring in judges from around the world to decide on the ultimate winner,' said Burnett. 'It’s like the Olympics for entertainment, but you don’t have to wait every two years.'

"Since Darnell joined Warner Bros. as president of Unscripted and Alternative Television in 2013, he has set up  a string of new series at NBC, including hits Little Big Shots and new breakout Ellen’s Game Of Games; at Fox, including the Love Connection reboot, which is coming back for a second season; and at ABC, including game show 500 Questions, also a collaboration with Burnett.

"Because CBS’ veteran unscripted series, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, subsequently joined by Undercover Boss, all are still going strong, the network has had very little shelf space available for new unscripted fare, with very few new reality series ordered in the past few years, including Hunted and Ambulance. Because of the fact that CBS takes so few shots in reality, it is a challenge to get a show on. It had been a  goal for Darnell, which he has now accomplished.

“'The World’s Best is a new talent competition captured on a scale rarely seen on television,' he said. 'This will be the first and only series where talent from all over the globe takes the stage in front of three American judges and 50 world experts. It’s exhilarating to embark on this game-changing event with CBS, Mark Burnett and our terrific team here at Warner Horizon.'

"Warner Horizon is retaining the format rights to The World’s Best to sell internationally, in partnership with MGM."

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Per The A.V. Club, "[i]t’s now February, the month of love and prognosticating marmots. Among all the other seasonally appropriate offerings you’ll find on TV and in theaters is Jason James’ Entanglement, a twisted yet comedic love story starring Thomas Middleditch and Jess Weixler. As Ben Layton, Middleditch is an unconventional lead—after five seasons of Silicon Valley, the latest of which debuts March 25, he’s got far more experience with tech bromances.

"But, as Middleditch tells The A.V. Club, it’s really just a matter of working a different muscle. Ahead of Entanglement’s February 9 release, we talked to the actor-comedian about the challenges of starring in a rom-com, the potential obstacles the genre faces, social activism, T.J. Miller, and why his co-star (and Oscar nominee) Kumail Nanjiani is just so damn great at Twitter:

The last time we spoke with you, you said you were interested in taking on more dramatic projects. Is that what drew you to this particular movie?

Yeah, in part. I am looking to perpetually challenge myself and in my existing body of work. And there’s no shortage of comedies with a plethora of dick jokes, so I felt like I had some room to explore something else and it’s not every day that a sort of surreal, trippy, dream-like love story comes over to me. So when I read the script I was like, “Oh, this is just straight-up weird. I like it.” Which is really the point of independent film, to play and experiment and try new things—otherwise what are you doing at that level? That budget level, that is.

This is a good jumping-off point for that challenge, becauseEntanglement is very dark and edgy for a rom-com, even one being billed as an “alternative romantic comedy.” How did you prepare for the role? 

Well, I think there’s plenty of people who can really do comedy—let’s call them, I know this might be revolutionary, but let’s call them comedians—that have little dark patches. I think for a lot of us, turning to comedy was a way of figuring out all that other stuff. So, in terms of preparation, I think you kind of just tap into some other things. You slow things down. You turn off the comedy mass brain: trying to always look for a joke or a heightening or any of that stuff. You kind of just make that side a little bit more quiet and play from the gut a little bit better.

What was the most difficult thing for you about filming the movie?

For someone who primarily does comedy—it’s interesting when you do comedy, I feel like, I kind of mentioned it, there’s comedy mass. You can kind of analyze in between takes, be like, “Okay, was that good?” And you know it was good, if you sort of had the sensation of “was it funny or not.” Because I’ve been doing it for so long, I have that part. But it’s so funny, whenever I do anything even remotely dramatic, I second-guess absolutely everything. I have no idea what I’m doing. So after each take, I just have no idea if it was good or not. And I become a very needy person to be on film, requiring a tremendous amount of validation. And it’s also kind of scary, right, ’cause once you’re done filming, they go off and assemble it however they want. And you’re just like, “Did I do too much? Did I not do enough? Is it gonna come across as disingenuous? Oh god.” So I think the biggest challenge was just not believing that it’s possible from my face and brain. [Laughs.]

You have such great chemistry with your Silicon Valley co-stars, but that’s a group dynamic with various rhythms. Here, you’re mostly playing off one person, your co-lead Jess Weixler. What was that like, to work primarily with just one other person, and in a totally different kind of relationship than we’re used to seeing you in?

It definitely helps that Jess is not only a great actress, but she’s just a really cool person to be around. She’s really sweet and deep, and she laughs at all my stupid jokes. She was great. And in a movie like this where it’s a lot more intimate and there’s a bit of a love story going on, you kind of have to suspend a little—the falling-for-each-other thing, that happens, and it’s not like you’re crossing any lines or anything, but you show up to work and you have to sort of look “gazingly” at one another. And of course, it’s all pretend, but for a month you get to really know someone, and it’s interesting. It’s kind of a different process. I’d never done a… well, I guess I shouldn’t give it away, but I’ve never done an intimate bedroom scene, let’s say—ever, in my acting. I’m always the nerdy dweeb. That doesn’t happen a lot for me, so that was kind of a trip. It’s embarrassing. It’s weird and it’s surreal and then, “Cut.” You move on. You got other stuff to shoot that day.

There’s some concern that in light of the cultural shift we’re seeing, thanks to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, that Hollywood won’t be able to make romantic or sexy movies, whether they’re dramas or even just romantic comedies. What are your thoughts on the movements, and do you think they could impact these kinds of movies going forward?

I definitely don’t think that intimate movies will stop getting made. That just won’t happen. Even if there is a slowdown, everything’s cyclical or comes in waves. I think the aspiration is that when they do, or even movies that aren’t romantic in nature, there’s a sense of professionalism where people don’t have to feel either intimidated or anxious.

I also think, you know, movements—Hollywood lives in its own insular bubble. We tend to think there’s a perpetual importance to things we say. I mean, we’re one of the few industries that televises multiple award ceremonies to pat ourselves on the back. [Laughs.] It’s crazy. So while we think everything we do is with the greatest importance, I think the rest of America sometimes rolls their eyes, and sometimes I side with them a little bit. I’m not specifically talking about #MeToo, but I would hesitate to guess that there’s a time limit for these various movements where people, even the people that are leaders in the movements, get kind of burnt out. ’Cause at one point you just wanna be like, “Well, talk about the movie you’re in as opposed to the statement.” But I do think it’s super important, as much as there’s growing pains with anything that’s brought into the spotlight, ’cause everybody has to adjust. Hopefully we get to the point where it’s good enough that we can move on. But I mean, it’s noisy at the start, and that’s just what kind of has to happen.

Well, the #MeToo movement did begin outside of Hollywood, and the goal of Time’s Up is to help survivors in other industries, especially those who aren’t nearly as influential.

Oh, no, I didn’t mean to marginalize it and say it’s only us. I understand, and it should be a complete global movement.

I think this is my reaction to just watching every award ceremony lately, and it’s tricky. When everybody has something to say about it, it sometimes feels flippant, I suppose. My concerns come from making sure any movement feels protected and actual, as opposed to [someone thinking], “I say this because it’s very popular to say, and honestly, not saying it is negative points.” So I want to make sure—which is a very cynical way of looking at it, I understand that—but I just want to make sure that all the movements that are really just and worthwhile aren’t sort of dismissed as leftist nonsense.

You ended the fourth season of Silicon Valley knowing that you’d go into the new season without T.J. Miller. What was it like, shooting the show after his departure?

I think by the end everybody knew that that was the right move. No one wants to be either on a show that they’re kind of ready to move on from, or around someone who’s on a show that they are ready to move on from. It just creates a bit of friction, and so I think it feels better and I bet everyone involved feels better. Yeah, so I think, to be honest, everybody involved is happier.

And was there any discussion on set about the assault allegations against him?

People who know him, sure, we chat about it. But I think that’s the tricky thing with all this stuff. Speaking as a guy, as a man, as a male human, it’s kind of scary, with this fervor that’s surrounding it, where an allegation can just pop up and then it’s really incumbent upon you to fervently defend your character. I’m not gonna dive into what’s real or not. I’m just saying it’s a little bit scary. I mean, I thought the whole Aziz Ansari thing was kind of absurd. Like, there’s a difference between assault and just kind of strange sex. You don’t want to live in a world where it’s just so stiff that there’s no, I don’t know, something? I don’t know where I’m going with that, but I don’t really know enough about [the allegations against Miller] to comment on. Just don’t know about it, really. But it is tricky, you know. It’s weird. It’s like we live in a world where currently the climate, let’s say, is where a j’accuse will really turn your world upside down.

[At this point, Middleditch’s publicist cuts in to say that we have one minute left, then asks that we return to talking about the film.—ed.]

One of Entanglement’s themes, which is demonstrated with all this beautiful imagery of red strings running everywhere, is this sense of interconnectedness, that sometimes goes deeper than we’re even aware of. As Richard Hendricks, you definitely go all-in on social media. But your own online presence is limited to your Instagram account. Did you just find it necessary to kind of unplug?

[Laughs.] Well, I do like Instagram ’cause I can make funny videos or just share some photos. I like it because in the comments sections you can kind of curate it, and if people are being jerks you can just—they go away. Facebook, I just deleted, because I just wasn’t using it and I don’t like the idea of having a platform that silently collects my data to be sold off to massive corporations. I can’t stand that. That really irks me. I also think it’s completely useless and the only purpose to have it is maybe to just have people from your past message you saying what’s going on lately, which to me is an actual chore. And also to put articles about fake nonsense, which I also think happens with Twitter. Twitter to me, is the noisiest, messiest, turned-up version of the internet. Where I just look at it and go, “Oh wow.” It’s just a bunch of people screaming at each other and making jokes or statements that conflict with everyone else. So it’s, like, not the personification, but the culmination of a loud internet, which I think is—it’s not for me. So I deleted it.

And I mean, I’m not as good at Twitter as Kumail [Nanjiani]. Kumail can sum up these cultural elements into something really funny. I can’t. I can do that maybe with a silly voice or a video, but that doesn’t play on Twitter. I could never really do that in 140 characters. So my contribution was pretty minimal, and then all I was doing was experiencing it, which I thought was kind of a weaponized, mechanized—you know with bots—and polarized amalgamation of what I thought were the grosser elements of the internet. So I think Twitter’s actually become… I mean, my honest opinion, I think Twitter is a detriment to society. I do. I think it’s all these sort of social media aggregate sources. They perpetuate polarization. They perpetuate misinformation. And they can be so easily manipulated. You don’t even know it’s being manipulated. I really do think it’s a bad thing. So down with Twitter. Hashtag. That’s the newest movement, man. And if it succeeds, that hashtag won’t even matter right?

So, once #DownWithTwitter gets enough retweets, the whole platform just self-destructs?

Yes. Great. Great. Love it."

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"In a newsy earnings call, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish addressed the decision to sell Paramount’s The Cloverfield Paradox to Netflix, where it launched on Super Bowl Sunday, calling it 'a bit of a one-off.'

"Even so, the studio will 'continue to look broadly at opportunities' for 'creative thinking and ways to create more value,' he said.

"Bakish, who has had the top job for a bit more than a year, covered several other hot topics, though a disclaimer at the top of the call said he would not address the recent news of formal discussions with CBS. The company reported earnings this morning that beat Wall Street estimates but reflected U.S. advertising weakness and an 8% revenue decline. Investors still seemed encouraged, boosting shares 6% to $32.45 within the first hour of trading.

"The CEO asserted that there is 'no leadership change at Nickelodeon,' despite recent rumblings that Sarah Levy’s expanded duties as COO of the global entertainment group augur a shuffle at the top of the network. Nick’s ratings softness was a notable rough patch in the quarterly results, though Bakish said Nick president Cyma Zarghami and her team are working on a rebound, something 'we have done before,' he noted.

"While some have viewed the Levy promotion as a sign that Zarghami may not continue after her contract expires in the coming months, Bakish maintained, 'the intent is to streamline our structure and break down silos and make sure we are as agile as we can be.'

"Like every traditional programmer doing battle with streaming services and mobile and social players of all stripes, Viacom is planning to roll out a direct-to-consumer OTT service. Execs said on the call that it is on track to launch by this fall in the U.S. and will include “tens of thousands of hours” of content, according to CFO Wade Davis said during the call.

"In further articulating the strategy, Bakish made a thinly veiled reference to Starz, whose OTT service has inflamed tensions with distributors such as Altice, which continues a carriage impasse with Starz parent Lionsgate. Compared with such an offering, 'We do not view this as a substitute product. We view this as a complement.'

"Davis said one MVPD partner, which he did not name, is exploring an integration of the Viacom OTT into its the 'This is a product that we think works in that ecosystem.'

"While Paramount Pictures in general continues to struggle, Bakish and Davis painted a brighter picture for 2019.

"Revenue from Paramount Television, which is producing shows like The Alienist for TNT and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan for Amazon will hit $400 million in annual revenue by 2019, Davis projected, with profit margins at or above” 10%, with 14 shows in the pipeline."

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This is a very long and interesting story about the relationship between Charlie Sheen and former MLB player Lenny Dykstra: "Lenny Dykstra, the ex-con and former major league center fielder, relishes his wild-man reputation, and relishes running his mouth about it even more. With roughly Pete Rose's chance of making it to Cooperstown, he'll talk about gobbling Human Growth Hormone with his cereal during his playing days just as easily as he'll open up about how, in his mid-50s, he's developed a post-prison side gig as a silver-haired gigolo to Beverly Hills grandmothers.

"But over lunch in a corner booth at The Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge, it's another wild man, more famous and even more hard living, once his best buddy but with whom he no longer speaks, who has him gabbing. Dykstra explains that he believes his onetime friend Charlie Sheen is on the verge of being prosecuted, in a roundabout way, for knowingly spreading his HIV — and that the actor is under federal investigation for tax and wire fraud. What's more, Dykstra claims to know this because it was his own semi-accidental whistle-blowing to the government that got the Internal Revenue Service sniffing around in the first place.'"I don't know why Charlie doesn't try to leave the country,' he says.

"Dykstra, 54, nicknamed 'Nails' decades ago for his relentlessness on the field — parts of five seasons with the New York Mets and eight with the Philadelphia Phillies — isn't done. He goes on to float that Sheen was involved in the sudden death of a member of his own inner circle and beat his pregnant ex-fiancee. The 52-year-old Sheen, says Dykstra, is not simply the drug-addled clown the tabloids have been feasting on for years but is truly dangerous.

"Dykstra is going public now with this new info about Sheen, he says, because he's genuinely sickened by the worst of the actor's behavior. 'I am not a saint, but I will not tolerate a man beating a woman'" he says. Still, under questioning, another motive emerges.

"Sheen warned Dykstra to 'watch your front side, watch your backside, watch both sides.'

"Dykstra was friendly with Sheen for more than two decades, eventually joining his core clique. Now he's excommunicated. His allegations against Sheen are telling; his willingness to share them even more so. The doomed bromance of Lenny and Charlie is a glimpse into the hedonistic lure of a real-life Entourage, only sadder, more desperate and ultimately damned — a cautionary tale about Hollywood alpha-male bonding at its most decadent and damaging.

"The industry has always been a magnet for guys like Dykstra: confident outsider-hustlers who see opportunity in its chaos, imagining that their accomplishments in other fields mean they must have the wits, guts and guile to conquer the gilded mayhem. But with Sheen and his all-star team of professional handlers, Nails met his match.

"Like his ex-pal, Dykstra has a public reputation so sullied that Newsweek referred to him as a 'scumbag' after he had a Twitter dustup with Lena Dunham. Yet Nails, who speaks with a lisp due to a jailhouse beating that left him with many missing teeth, is self-aware enough of his notoriety (and so eager to instill confidence in his tale) that he insists on providing the password to his personal email account for full disclosure. 'Look at whatever you want,' he says. 'I've got nothing to hide.'

"Press Dykstra about his rationalization for selling out his former friend, and he'll tell you that Sheen took his wise counsel for granted, ignored it and left him with nothing to show for it. No surprise, Dykstra is hoping to drum up interest in a possible stand-alone Sheen documentary project as well as a multipart docuseries about his own over-the-top life — he envisions it in the sweeping, kaleidoscopic terms of O.J.: Made in America. 'There are so many people to interview, from prison guards to my [private plane] pilots to pussy,' he says.

"If Dykstra's actions mean Sheen gets burned, so be it. 'Charlie is getting what he deserves,' he says. Sheen declined to speak for this story. But Dykstra doesn't appear at all conflicted about publicly crossing his ex-friend, even one who once warned him to 'watch your front side, watch your backside, watch both sides.' Dykstra takes a swig of Irish coffee, settles into his booth and alludes to his time at the federal penitentiary in Victorville, California. 'When you've been where I've been, I'm not afraid of anything.'

"The bad-boy pair first hung out when Dykstra's Phillies were in Los Angeles playing the Dodgers during the 1993 season. Sheen — who dreamed of being a big leaguer as a kid and was then reprising his role as reliever Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn for Major League II — cold called him at the clubhouse with an invitation to his Malibu home. 'I was a huge fan of Wall Street,' says Dykstra. "Turns out he's a serious baseball guy: He has a cage lit up like a pro stadium. I told him, :Dude, you can hit!" He could.'

"That first evening, Sheen uncorked a $3,000 bottle of red wine ('I spilled half') and then, once 'hammered,' showed off what Dykstra describes as his 'legitimate fucking gunnery' and suggested they fire off automatic weapons together. Dykstra passed, but the two became buddies. 'He's funny, he's smart, he knows about everything,' says Dykstra.

"Dykstra, who last played in the majors in 1996, retired at age 33 to a notoriously checkered business career. He was involved in car-wash dealerships, quick-lube centers, jet charters and stock picking. By 2008, he was worth $58 million. The following year, he had filed for Chapter 11 and was reportedly forced to sell his Mets 1986 World Series ring to help pay off more than $31 million in debt.

"His problems weren't merely financial. Between 2009 and 2011, Dykstra was accused by a former employee of making racist and homophobic remarks, writing a bad check to an escort and sexually assaulting his housekeeper. He also was charged with indecent exposure, drug possession, grand theft auto, identity theft and filing false financial statements — and eventually sentenced to three years.

"Before going to prison, Dykstra reconnected with Sheen in February 2011 after having lost touch for some time. Fittingly, they ran into each other at the UCLA baseball field, as Dykstra helped his son Cutter, then a minor league player (and husband of Sopranosactress Jamie-Lynn Sigler), practice for the upcoming season. 'Charlie came running up to me, hugging me, telling me how much he missed me,' explains Dykstra. 'I could tell he was lit up but in good spirits.'

"Over just a few frenzied months that spring, before being taken into custody in June, Dykstra found himself operating as a Thomas Cromwell-style fixer in the erratic Beverly Hills court of King Charles. When the actor ended up in an embarrassing cash crunch while attempting to purchase film producer Mike Medavoy's Mulholland Estate house for nearly $7 million, Dykstra claims to have secured a hard-money lender at the last minute. After Sheen went on Alex Jones' Infowars radio show and disparaged his Two and a Half Men showrunner Chuck Lorre as 'Chaim Levine,' Dykstra begged him to apologize. Sheen didn't, and Warner Bros. Television fired him soon after.

"Despite his best intentions, Dykstra says most of his efforts to act as the star's unofficial manager were met with resistance. He says Sheen, despite his urging, snubbed a $2 million cameo on the Australian iteration of Big Brother and could not be persuaded to perform his infamous 'Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option' speaking spectacle as a Las Vegas residency. 'He turns it down to go play a bunch of fucking rinky-dink cities. It was crazy.'

"Dykstra also cooked up a series of licensing deals, including a vaping product called Nico-Sheen and a caffeinated liquor, Sheen Vodka, which were to be hawked on an umbrella web portal titled Planet Sheen. He says that Sheen's personal manager at the time, Mark Burg, and former business manager, Barry Klarberg, kiboshed the whole thing.

"'Lenny was a friend of Charlie's who tried to get more involved in his life, and I don't think he ever wanted that,' explains Burg. Klarberg did not respond to requests for comment.

"In a March 21 email to Dykstra reviewed by THR, the actor pulled the plug on Planet Sheen: 'The pressure I'm under from my business team to NOT pursue this with you, is tsunami-esque.'

"Dykstra's tussles with Sheen's circle continued after he returned from serving out his three-year stint. He asserts that Burg, Klarberg and Sheen's then-attorney Marty Singer put the brakes on Dykstra's most audacious gambit of all: a complex $85 million play to sell the note on what remained of the actor's Warner Bros. financial package to solve Sheen's cash crunch. He insists it was sabotaged late in the game when they realized what the document-review process might expose. Before he could bring anyone in on the details, 'Marty put an NDA together that was so vicious, so stacked, that no one would sign it,' explains Dykstra, still fuming. 'I finally get one [potential investor] to sign it and what do they send him? Dick. Nothing relevant.'

"Singer disputes the claim as 'absurd and ridiculous. The NDAs were appropriate,' adding, 'As far as I understand it, Lenny likely had an NDA, too, and I don't believe he's living up to it.' Dykstra responds that he doesn't 'give a shit' about breaking its terms 'because I was saving Charlie's fucking life.'

"All of this time, Sheen's drug use was worsening. During the manically loquacious interview spree in early 2011 that bequeathed pop culture the catchphrase 'Winning!' Dykstra claims the actor was high on OxyContin: 'When [the pills] are at their peak, it's a euphoria, where you're smart and you're creative and you're quick and you're invincible.' But by summer 2014, Sheen had locked himself in a crack den hidden in his mansion for nine days. 'It was right out of a mystery spy thriller, with a sliding bookcase,' says Dykstra. 'I walked in and Charlie was standing there with a glass dick — a crack pipe — in one hand and his phone in the other. I took one look around, there's all this stuff, cool paintings and Babe Ruth's ring, and I said, "Charlie, I have to admit, if you're going to smoke crack, this has got to be the best crack den on the planet!" That broke the ice.'

"By Dykstra's account, Sheen soon confessed to him that he had HIV, which he believed he'd contracted from a transsexual partner, and that he was being extorted for millions over the secret. Dykstra urged the star to go public about his health, as Sheen's parents, Martin and Janet, had already been urging. 'I said, "You can't live like this anymore" — this isn't even living.'

"Dykstra contends that he was crushed by Sheen's last-minute decision to pull out of a news conference he'd helped arrange that November for his friend to get out in front of the diagnosis — a full year before the National Enquirer would finally force the issue. It was to be held at Sheen's parents' house, with Hollywood publicist Larry Winokur brought in by Dykstra to orchestrate the crisis management. Winokur, whose casting-director wife had hired Sheen on Major League and Lucas, confirms Dykstra and Sheen reached out to him about the plan, noting the sincerity with which Dykstra approached the endeavor. 'Lenny played team sports very successfully, and if you're on Lenny's team, I think he'd give you the shirt off his back,' he says.

"By the end of that year, Dykstra had come to believe Sheen was suicidal. Dykstra was reduced to attempting to rein in his buddy via desperate, all-caps-laden text messages. 'Charlie, you are a fucking winner!' Dykstra typed during an exchange on the evening of Dec. 21. 'Do not quit on me bro! I KNOW YOU ARE NOT A PUSSY!' Sheen replied, 'I'm too tired bro going away now where no one can hurt me ever again fuk tv fuk media fuk the public fuk cutting deals fuk getting rolled I own my truth forever adios senior….. x'

"Dykstra appears most solemn when discussing the summer 2012 death of Rick Calamaro, Sheen's recently fired assistant, as well as the alleged violence perpetrated against Sheen's ex-fiancee, Scottine 'Brett' Rossi.

"L.A. native Calamaro — known for his years as the phone-glued-to-his-ear partner at A-list velvet rope clubs like Holly's and Ivar — was discovered July 1 by his maid, lying face up in his bed beside a bottle of Jack Daniel's, in his longtime Fairfax district apartment. The autopsy report listed 'very high' levels of Fentanyl, the powerful opioid, and noted that Calamaro, 50, had suffered from depression and had been taking a mixture of prescription medication for pain and anxiety. 'Based on the history and circumstances, as currently known,' the autopsy concluded, 'the manner of death is accident.'

"Calamaro extended his gatekeeping instinct at times to Sheen's social circle, eventually earning the enmity of Dykstra, who grew convinced that Calamaro was working on a tell-all. 'Before I went [to jail], I said, "Dude, this guy, he is writing a fucking book, you got to fire him,"' recalls Dykstra (while freely admitting he himself later served as an unnamed source for the Enquirer).

"After he got out of jail, says Dykstra, he asked Sheen, 'What the fuck happened to Calamaro?' who had overdosed while Dykstra was in prison. 'He said, "You mean Dead Rick? What fucking happened is the motherfucker tried to blackmail me just like you said — wanted $5 million. I had him fucking iced.' He said he had a hot dose put in there,' using slang for a lethal intravenous injection prepared for an unsuspecting victim. (Dykstra again offers no proof his recollection is accurate, and Sheen's current lawyer, Shane Bernard, issued a denial of the allegations, noting Dykstra's 'laundry list of crimes' and asserting that his 'disturbing, vile and outright ridiculous claims' are unreliable.)

"Sheen's close friend, Tony Todd, who lived with the actor during this period and has known him since the two attended Santa Monica High School, laughingly scoffs at the charge, adding that even if Sheen were to have done such a thing, 'Charlie's not going to tell it to Lenny Dykstra!'

"Rossi says that while she is unaware of such an admission pertaining to Calamaro specifically, it's certainly possible given her own history with the actor, which she outlined in a 2015 lawsuit. According to her filing, Sheen said 'he wanted to murder people that he was angry with.' The suit also refers to a 'hit' Sheen allegedly took out on Rossi's ex-husband. The following year, she obtained a restraining order against Sheen after the LAPD began investigating an alleged recording in which he threatened to pay someone $20,000 to 'kick her head in.'

"Since Sheen himself won't comment, the likelihood of another scenario — that the star, while high, simply made a distasteful joke about having Calamaro killed — is unclear.

"Dykstra has a complicated relationship with Rossi, a porn star who says she met Sheen on a $10,000 escort date. Early on, as a favor to Sheen, Dykstra hired 'an Armenian buddy to follow [Rossi] for a few days' to confirm she wasn't cheating on him. (Dykstra says he used to hire private eyes to dig up dirt on umpires, noting 'it wasn't a coincidence' that he led the league in walks in 1993.) Dykstra eventually became Rossi's confidant, and she divulged details of Sheen's sexual kinks. Rossi tells THR: 'He would look at transsexual porn when he was high and [ask her], "Which one is hot?"'

"Dykstra claims to have seen further proof of Sheen's lifestyle. He says that attorney Keith Davidson, recently in the news for orchestrating porn actress Stormy Daniels' alleged $130,000 payment to stay quiet about a 2006 affair with President Trump, showed him a copy of the tape that media outlets have reported was circulating in which Sheen participated in gay sex. (Over email, Davidson asserts, 'This just never happened.')

"Rossi confirms that once Sheen kicked her out, it was Dykstra who helped her free up money by selling off her pricey gifted watch collection to underground buyers and listened as she told stories of domestic abuse by Sheen, including battery, false imprisonment and that he knowingly exposed her to HIV (all of which she alleged in a December 2013 lawsuit). Rossi told Dykstra and confirmed to THR that Sheen, concerned over how his crack use would affect the fetus, pressured her to get an abortion. 'Right now,' says Rossi, 'I would have a 3-year-old running around.'

"Dykstra shakes his head in repudiation. He is bothered less by the possibility of Sheen's involvement in Calamaro's death than what allegedly happened to Rossi. 'Killing the guy that fucking tried to extort him: That's his business,' he says. But what Rossi alleges happened to her is too much for him. 'Men, they get in rages. But no pummeling.'

"Dykstra's evident frustration with how things always seemed to go for him when it came to Sheen — sideways, to his mind, with him playing the good guy but getting no recognition to show for it — reaches a crescendo as he recalls another grim episode involving Rossi in November 2014. As he has it, she dialed him in tears, having overdosed on Valium in her Encino home, which she'd moved into after her breakup with Sheen.

"'Scottine says, "I'm dying." I say, "There's a number for that: 9-1-1." "No, Charlie won't like that." I go over there, she says she needs to go to the bathroom. It hits me. I run in and she's swallowing a handful of pills. I tackle her and they go all over, but she gets a lot down.' Dykstra is an often-demonstrative raconteur, acting out the maneuver. 'It was out of Pulp Fiction. Soon I have her in my car, driving to Cedars, flying down the 405, shaking her: "Don't fucking die on me, bitch!"' He pauses, shakes his head. 'I was on probation, dude!'

"He's still irritated that 'no one knows I saved her life.' Worse, he adds, getting worked up, Rossi never acknowledged his heroism. 'The amount of times she thanked me is zero. Can you believe it?'

"Rossi confirms the pill incident but says that Dykstra — whose ditching of her at the hospital was so abrupt, she was forced to submit to a rape kit ('That's what happens when some guy just drops you off and goes, "Bye!"') — should be gallant enough not to ask to be recognized as her 'knight in shining armor.' She laughs. 'He's still talking about that?'

"Dykstra began to lose favor in the court of King Charles — all of those gone-nowhere deals, all of that advice not taken. And what he considered his one, momentarily satisfying victory was, in hindsight, the thing he's sure will be Sheen's ultimate demise.

"Dykstra long suspected that another mansion nemesis, Sheen's head of security, was ripping off the boss — charging personal expenses, including getaways and real estate taxes, back to Sheen. And he believes he has the AmEx bills (shared with THR) to back it up. The military veteran insists zero embezzlement took place and that any and all charges 'were made with Charlie's permission.'

"In any case, it wasn't any purported theft that led to the employee's firing. 'What did it is that Charlie went to check his guns,' recalls Dykstra. 'He calls me drunk, freaking out: "He took the fucking pins outta my guns! He put my family in danger!" He went the most nuclear I've ever seen him.' Dykstra laughs, observing that in spite of his feelings about the security chief, 'I would've taken those pins out too, the way Charlie was [behaving].'

"Still, Dykstra worried that the terminated employee would seek retribution and sought to neutralize him. Given Dykstra's probationary status, he figured his best bet would be to pass on documents that he believed incriminated the man to the IRS. On Oct. 8, Dykstra got an email from an IRS agent, asking for a follow-up call. But the investigator wasn't interested in talking more about the security chief. He had turned his attention to Sheen. '[The IRS agent] says, "What do you know about these $20,000 cash payments for 'women of the night'?" That's when I knew they're going to come at him with tax fraud, wire fraud — everything.' (The IRS will not comment on particular tax cases.) Dykstra knows from experience what it's like when the government, patient and powerful, zeroes in on you. 'It was a felony if you didn't tell a woman you have HIV when you know it. Nothing has happened to him since all of those women went public. Think about it,' he says, proffering his own legal analysis. 'This is how he is going to go down.'

"Dykstra and Sheen haven't spoken since Dec. 21, 2014 — a final two-hour call initiated by the actor, whom Dykstra characterizes as downbeat. 'He kept on saying how sorry he was,' he recalls. 'Charlie said, "Everything you told me was right, they all lied to me."'

"Dykstra believes that although they reconciled during the conversation, Sheen couldn't bring himself to ever hang out with his old buddy again, since during a heated argument weeks earlier, Dykstra had revealed he had seen Sheen's allegedly compromising sex tapes. 'He couldn't face me. He knows what I saw. He's humiliated.'

"Yet livid texts sent by Sheen to Dykstra on Sept. 9 and obtained by THR from another source point to betrayal, not shame, as the actor's reason for cutting off his friend. Sheen discovered that Dykstra planned to pocket 5 percent of that Warner Bros. payout deal — a cut the star felt had been arranged behind his back. Sheen typed: 'bro – I repeatedly asked you, (and DO NOT CHALLENGE MY MEMORY) "Hey Len, what's in this for you?" and you always said; QUOTE: "Oh hey man, we'll figure out something fair later on …" well now I have to re invent what later on means between us. Newsflash GasLighter; You FUCKING KNEW FROM JUMP STREET WHAT IT WAS … you came in here to clean house and also clean my HARD EARNED CLOCK!'

"More than anything, Dykstra wants to present himself as the ultimate cleanup hitter, an unsung hero (OK, antihero) who in selfless service of a buddy went up against Hollywood's most sordid retinue. He can't countenance the prospect that he might not have been trustworthy, that maybe he was just out to extract his piece like all the rest of them.

"Or perhaps his initial motive for joining Sheen's team truly was as simple as friendship. This just wasn't his sport.

"Following that final call on Dec. 21, 2014, Dykstra texted Sheen once more. 'It makes me feel so good that you know "I AM WHO I AM" and the fact that you know I am your REAL FRIEND!' And continued, 'FYI — I deleted everything on this phone and nobody knows we spoke tonight.'

"His signoff: 'NAILS OUT!'"