Is this the last blog in America that hasn’t commented on the Charlie Sheen meltdown? There isn’t much of a public policy angle, of course. Oh sure, employment‐law analysts are looking at whether Warner Bros. has the right to fire Charlie Sheen. John Stossel and Bill O’Reilly talked about that question Tuesday night. But I’ve got another contribution. If Sheen is gone, Warner Bros. is going to need another actor — and a new “situation” — to keep its hit show “Two and a Half Men” on the air. Here’s my treatment:
A womanizing actor (John Stamos) is delighted to buy a Malibu beach house at a fire‐sale price when the owner (Charlie Sheen) suddenly leaves town. Then he’s shocked to discover that the brother and nephew of the previous owner are living in the house, not paying rent, and refusing to leave. He tells them to get out, but Stamos brings in a lawyer (Julianna Margulies) who tells him that under California lawyer‐tenant law he can’t evict the people who are living there.
Warner Bros. might want to seek out the writer of Pacific Heights, a 1990 thriller that is almost a documentary on the horrors of landlord‐tenant law. A young couple (Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith) buy a big house in San Francisco and then rent an apartment to a young man (Michael Keaton). He never pays them, and they can’t get him out, and then things get really scary. The lawyer lectures the couple — and the audience — on how “of course you’re right, but you’ll never win.” I just knew this happened to someone — maybe the screenwriter or someone he knew. Sure enough, when Cato published William Tucker’s book Rent Control, Zoning, and Affordable Housing, and I asked the director of Pacific Heights, the legendary John Schlesinger, for a jacket blurb, he readily agreed to say “If you thought Pacific Heights was fiction, you need to read this book”; and he told me that the screenwriter had a relative who had gone through a tenant nightmare.
Of course, Warner Bros. might prefer to hire that screenwriter for a movie about a company that hires a charming and handsome new employee (Charlie Sheen) who brings in lots of money but turns out to be a nightmare to work with. Can they fire him? Hilarity ensues.