Charlie Sheen is back, sorta: The embattled actor made a surprise new media comeback this weekend with a new live streaming format called Sheen’s Korner, broadcasting close to an hour Saturday night on Ustream.tv.
The show featured Sheen sporting a t-shirt with a green dollar sign, reading some of his own poetry, rambling, cracking jokes with his on-camera sidekicks and delivering one-liners off of paper cue cards. It wasn’t exactly prime time entertainment, but curiosity and fan loyalty still helped Sheen to clock some 660,000 live video views. Including views of the archived program, Sheen’s Ustream debut has been watched more than a million times.
Critics were quick to dismiss the show as “a wasted opportunity,” but Barry Schuler couldn’t be happier. The former AOL CEO is the co-founder of WYTV, a Los Angeles-based live streaming venture that produced Sheen’s Korner, and wrote about the experience on his blog:
“Over cigars and war stories about The Chase (Brad produced, Charlie starred), the plan was hatched. WYTV’s portable studio would set up in his house (the Lodge), we’d all start tweeting it up Saturday morning and go live at 7pm. Tens of thousands might tune in. It would be Sheen’s (microphone), Sheen’s roll. Sheen’s Korner. A big experiment.”
Schuler celebrated the first broadcast as a big success on Sunday, but Sheen himself apparently wasn’t so sure. He tweeted on Sunday that “last night was treasonous to the movement,” took down the archived live stream today and promised that “a video solution coming soon.”
Sheen particularly took issue with attempts to make Sheen’s Korner look like a talk show. “Why, Howard Stern does that. It’s lame. It’s retarded,” he said during a strategy call on Sunday, adding that “last night was a shameful train-wreck.” Said Sheen about WYTV: “I tried to use their format. I don’t fit into their format. Their format is (expletive).” How do we know that? Because Sheen live-streamed the call on Ustream.
So what is WYTV’s format? The company has been producing a handful of live shows on Ustream, including Fleischer’s Universe, a show featuring the stand-up comedian and voice actor Charles Fleischer. It was co-founded by Hollywood producer Brad Wyman, who apparently got Sheen on board. Most of its shows only attract a few hundred viewers at best, but Schuler nonetheless compares it to some of cable’s biggest success stories:
“This network is where HBO was in the 1970s. HBO gave people something they couldn’t get on TV: Back then it was uncut, uncensored movies. That’s all. This week WYTV gave you Charlie Sheen: something you couldn’t get on TV. No cable subscription needed.”
Sheen and his team now plan to relaunch the show next Saturday, but the actor is reportedly also in talks with Mark Cuban to join cable network HDNet. Cuban told ESPN this weekend that he’ll cooperate with Sheen in some way, but that the format hasn’t been decided yet. “It’ll come down to what he wants do and what his situation is,” he said, adding: “We’ll just figure it out from there, but it’s a unique opportunity.”
Sheen wouldn’t be the first celebrity to leverage the Internet and Twitter and particular as a tool to keep his audience while changing networks. Conan O’Brien successfully used Twitter after leaving NBC, and Keith Olberman also embraced the site after parting with MSNBC. However, Cuban thinks Sheen is acting more like a less contemporary celebrity, asking his Twitter followers on Sunday:
“If Twitter and (realtime) media existed back in the day, how would people view Hunter S Thompson?”
Good question. However, maybe the real question is: If Hunter S. Thompson had a live stream, would anyone stick around to watch it?
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