by Michael P. Riccards
March 30, 2011
THE PENSION BATTLES
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- There has been a lot in the news this past week.
Most important, if measured by getting most of the ink and air time, is the continuing soap opera, "Charlie and the CBS Factory."
The latest in a seemingly never-ending story is that after Charlie Sheen melted down, was fired, and spread himself to every known television talk show, declaring himself to be a winner and announcing a $100 million forthcoming law suit against CBS for breech of contract, the president of CBS announced he wanted Sheen back in "Two and a Half Men."
Details are to be worked out. CBS said it would work with creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre and producing studio Warner Brothers, The relationship among Sheen, Warner Bros., Lorre, and most of the cast and crew may be a bit more difficult since Sheen's warm-and-friendly on-air persona didn't match his vitriolic attacks upon his co-stars and anti-Semitic remarks about Lorre.
CBS probably wouldn't be as eager to bring Sheen back if the show wasn't the best-rated comedy on the schedule. The sitcom brings in about $2.89 million in advertising revenue per show, about $63 million per season. A ninth and possibly final season also makes it even more lucrative for all the parties when the show goes into full syndication.
The boozing, possibly drug-induced self-destructive Sheen earns about $1.8 million an episode. In contrast, Mark Harmon, star of "NCIS," the top-rated scripted show on tv, and also broadcast by CBS, is paid about $400,000 per episode, the same as any of the "Desperate Housewives," according to tv Guide. In contrast to Sheen, Harmon is happily married, and his professional and personal lives have been devoid of scandal.
Also devoid of scandal, except for an adulterous affair and subsequent marriage to Richard Burton, was Elizabeth Taylor, one of the greatest film actresses, who died at 79 from congestive heart failure.
Unlike Sheen and dozens of sub-par actresses, Taylor set the standard for both acting and a social conscience, being one of the first major celebrities to support not only AIDS education but the victims of the disease at a time when it could have been career-damaging to do so.
She won numerous awards, including two Oscars for her acting but her most important honor may have been a special Oscar for her humanitarian work, proving her beauty was far more than skin deep.
But there were a lot of other stories this past week.
Don't Congress and the federal judiciary system have far more important things to worry about than baseball players who do or don't take steroids? How much money has already been spent on Congressional investigations and the trials, several legal experts say, likely to end in a minimal sentence or none?
More importantly, some of the same people not only disregarded but mocked those who disputed the claims of the power companies with facts.
In one of the nation's busiest airports, located in the nation's capital, with government well aware that air traffic control is a most stressful jobs, why was only one controller on duty?
President Obama told us the reason for the attack, supported by the UN, was because dictator Muammar Ghaddafi was attacking civilians in his country.
If that indeed was the reason for the attack, why has the U.S. military been silent on the ethnic slaughter in Darfur? Why have there been no attacks on Iran, North Korea, or other dictatorships that slaughter and suppress people?
Is it because Libya has more strategic importance, and oil, than Darfur? A more important question is, Why are we attacking a country in a civil war?
Ghaddafi's attacks upon rebels may be harsh, but he's protecting his country. Apparently we learned nothing from the war in Vietnam. What if England invaded the U.S. on behalf of the Confederates. or France provided military assistance to President Lincoln during our own Civil War?
Other Republican-controlled states are in full battle gear. In Maine, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has proven he cares nothing about the working class: He ordered murals of workers taken down from the halls of the Department of Labor.
LePage claimed, without proof, that some businessmen said the artwork, which has no political theme but just depicts workers, was anti-business. Yet several recent national polls have shown no matter what radical conservatives believe, about two-thirds of Americans still believe in collective bargaining - even if they aren't in unions.
Curiously enough, the mural-removal trend of painting over murals began with the Art Déco masterpieces of Nobelist Diego Rivera in the hallways of Rockefeller Center in 1932. The murals first were hidden and then removed on the orders of young Nelson Rockefeller, but at least were replaced by the grand and beautiful American Progress" of Josep Maria Sert.
Walter Brasch has been a journalist and editor for 40 years, covering everything from PTA meetings to the White House and federal court system. His forthcoming book, Before the First Snow, looks at the problems of the nuclear power industry. The book is available for pre-order at amazon.com