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Michael Conniff

Michael Conniff

Posted: June 7, 2010 11:56 AM

Con Games: Aspen Jail Just a Stage for Charlie Sheen

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As truly horrendous and reprehensible ideas go, the one that would put Charlie Sheen to work as a part-time expert on the craft of acting at Theatre Aspen will be hard to top, even in a town know for all-hours retching and wretched excess.

I don't blame Theatre Aspen artistic director Paige Price one bit for entertaining the offer now that the yuk-it-up sitcom star from Two And A Half Men will be decamping up the hill at the Pitkin County Jail for a month or so for crimes against humanity and his own wife. Theatre Aspen puts on a series of great shows here every summer but has never been able to attract an A-List star with the candelabra power of Sheen. If I were Paige Price, I might be tempted to look at this offer from hell as a godsend.

But Charlie Sheen is not your average star: he is on the verge of pleading guilty to the misdemeanor crime of third-degree assault against his wife at Christmastime in Aspen. The local District Attorney says the theatre gig could be just the thing for Charlie to go with as many as 30 days in the Pitkin County slammer. I think it's the worst idea I ever heard.

Here's the rub, bub. You do the crime, you do the time. Work release is meant to help the community and reform the basest instincts, not turn a crime of sexual violence into a national joke. Even in Aspen, Charlie's phi-slamma-jamma ways should not be rewarded by literally walking a couple hundred yards down the hill to the cozy confines of the Theatre Aspen tent at Rio Grande Park. For those like me inclined to give a funny man a pass, a bit of history is in order. Consider that Sheen was originally charged with second-degree assault, menacing and criminal mischief, which produced his plea of not guilty in March 2010.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in the case, Sheen put a knife to his wife Brooke Mueller Sheen's throat and threatened to kill her in a battle royale on Christmas Day after she said she want a divorce.

"You better be in fear," Charlie Sheen said according to the affadavit. "If you tell anybody, I'll kill you."

At the moment he made the threat, the affidavit says the adorable actor presumed to be Theatre Aspen material was straddling his wife on the bed, with the knife in one hand and the other hand holding her by the neck. According the affidavit, he also told said: "Your mother's money means nothing, I have ex-police I can hire who know how to get the job done and they won't leave any trace."

After pleading not guilty, now it seems Charlie Sheen was guilty of assault in Aspen after all.

To make the idea of jailbird-as-thespian even worse, I can tell you as someone who lives here that there is no possible way this does not turn into a media circus. The locals will leave him alone, but the paparazzi will swarm without surcease.

All the world's a stage--especially in Aspen--but that doesn't mean we have to give our blessing to a tragedy.