Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Amid Tabloid Reports, Charlie Sheen Plans ‘Revealing Personal Announcement’

As tabloid reports proliferated on Monday that the troubled television star Charlie Sheen plans to soon reveal his HIV-positive status, one of Hollywood’s top crisis public relations experts confirmed that representatives for Mr. Sheen had in recent months sought his assistance in disclosing the diagnosis.

Howard Bragman, chairman and founder of the public relations firm Fifteen Minutes, said on Monday that the initial plans for navigating the inevitable tabloid feeding frenzy were not carried through. “It has been an open secret in certain circles, his people knew this was coming, but I think Charlie needed some more time,” Mr. Bragman said by phone.

Mr. Sheen’s lawyer, Martin Singer, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Mr. Sheen’s longtime publicist, Jeff Ballard, said in an email that he no longer represented the actor, relaying a statement he had previously given to People magazine: “We had a disagreement how to handle a situation and we parted ways.”

The gossip site Radar Online lit an online brush fire on Nov. 2 when it published a lengthy post about an unnamed actor’s HIV-positive diagnosis. Other celebrity sites followed with their own reports — without naming the actor — but The National Enquirer on Monday identified the star as Mr. Sheen. Other media outlets, including People magazine and Radar, subsequently did the same.

NBC’s “Today” show said on Monday that Mr. Sheen would make “a revealing personal announcement” on its Tuesday edition. NBC released no further information about its interview beyond saying that Mr. Sheen would talk with Matt Lauer.

Over the years, Mr. Sheen, 50, has openly acknowledged extensive drug use and the hiring of prostitutes. His private life became the focus of global media coverage in 2011 after he had a drug-fueled public meltdown and CBS shut down production of his hit sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Mr. Sheen was subsequently fired from the series, but he quickly returned with the FX comedy “Anger Management.”

That series has since been canceled. IMDBpro, a more extensive and fee-based version of the Internet Movie Database, indicates that Mr. Sheen has no television or movie projects currently in the works.

Mr. Bragman, who specializes in helping celebrities disclose sensitive information, in particular their sexual identity, noted that public understanding of HIV has come a long way since 1991, when the basketball star Magic Johnson disclosed his positive status. Since then, Mr. Johnson, who was 32 at the time, has backed AIDS-related efforts for the United Nations and other advocacy groups.

In September, the actor Danny Pintauro, best known for his role on the 1980s-era comedy “Who’s the Boss?,” disclosed his HIV-positive status and struggle with drug addiction in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“I don’t think this is a crisis for Charlie; I think it’s a controversy,” Mr. Bragman said. “If he owns it and handles it with respect, then there will be sympathy. He has a chance to do a lot of teaching. This is a disease than can affect anyone.”

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