HarperCollins Children's Books announced Friday that troubled TV star Charlie Sheen has received a seven-figure advance to publish two books with the company. The first, LISTEN UP, KIDS! : ADVICE, GUIDANCE, AND LIFE LESSONS shares Sheen's philosophies with youngsters from ages five to ten. The second volume will be a picture book called CHARLIE AND THE GODDESS, a fantasy about a little boy who meets a woman who can make all his wishes come true. Kevin Henkes has been signed to illustrate.
Acquiring editor Kurt Emhardt, who announced the deal at a morning press conference, fervently denied that Sheen’s recent tabloid troubles played any role in the $2.6 million deal. “HarperCollins has a great track record of publishing celebrity authors, including Gloria Estefan, Queen Latifah, Yeardley "Lisa Simpson" Smith, and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Charlie Sheen has always been on my shortlist of celebrities I wanted to work with. As it turns out, Charlie has been studying the children’s book field for some time and came to the same conclusion that so many other celebrities do: ‘There are no good books out there for kids.’ He hopes to correct that situation by writing his own.”
Emhardt calls Sheen “an iconoclast, very wise…really, he’s a great thinker and a great man” and reveals that Sheen phones him nearly every night at two or three a.m., bursting with ideas for the books. “It’s a rapid-fire marathon monologue,” says the editor, “and I basically take dictation till the sun comes up. But you know what? By the time Charlie nods off, we’ve got fifteen or twenty more strong pages for the book.”
The editor shared some excerpts from LISTEN UP, KIDS!:
• TATTOOS : “Don’t be lame and get inked with your grade school motto or the name of some hot chick in your fourth-grade class. Tats are permanent and in five years you won’t remember any of that crap. Instead, get a tattoo of a skull-and-crossbones…or a barbed-wire armband…or a Tasmanian Devil. Those are classics."
• DRESSING FOR SUCCESS : A bowling shirt and board shorts are appropriate for every situation -- from job interviews to dining with the Queen of England. And if old queen Liz doesn’t like it, tell her to kiss your American ass.”
• RANTS WILL GET YOU RAVES : “It’s important to always speak up. Say what is on your mind -- and say it LOUD! You’ll be surprised what this will do for your popularity.”
• ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES : “Booze and drugs are serious business. Don’t let them interfere with school! Remember, there is a time and place for everything. My own favorite times are morning, afternoon, and night. My favorite places are inside and outside.”
• SCHOOL : “Don’t drop out before age sixteen."
• DOING IT ON YOUR OWN : “Avoid nepotism at all costs. You’ll notice I only allowed my dad Martin Sheen to guest star on my sitcom one time. After that -- no more! He needed to make it on his own, not coast to stardom on my famous last name.”
• MAKING BABIES : “Don’t have a baby with anyone unless you can afford to support it…or unless the chick is willing to support it herself and not bug you ever again.”
• CHICKS : “Always get the best that money can buy.”
Harpercollins editor Kurt Emhardt says that LISTEN UP, KIDS!, slated for publication this June, is “edgy and controversial, but also cautionary and quite thought-provoking.” He reminds readers that, in a career that includes roles as a soldier (PLATOON, 1986), a banker (WALL STREET, 1987), and a zany sitcom uncle (TWO AND A HALF MEN, 2003 to 2011 or maybe 2012 or maybe 2013, depending on lawsuits), Sheen’s favorite role has always been his real-life role at home, as the father of several children.
The second book in Sheen’s contract, CHARLIE AND THE GODDESS, was sold to HarperCollins with a single-sentence outline (“Every young boy needs a goddess”) -- a phrase which will also be used as a tagline in the book’s promotional materials. It will be the first children’s book to include a centerfold, though Emhardt insists, “The foldout will reflect Charlie’s innate good taste.”
The lay-down date for the second book is April 1, 2012.