Fans, celebrities rally support for HIV-stricken Charlie Sheen; Justin Bieber said to shun him

Justin Bieber appeared with Today co-host Tamron Hall in a taped segment following the live interview with Charlie Sheen. Bieber reportedly demanded a dressing room far from Sheen's.
Justin Bieber appeared with Today co-host Tamron Hall in a taped segment following the live interview with Charlie Sheen. Bieber reportedly demanded a dressing room far from Sheen's.PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

CLEVELAND - Thousands of fans of actor Charlie Sheen and celebrities alike took to social media to express their support for him after he revealed in a live interview on national television in the United States that he has known he was HIV-positive for four years.

On the downside, pop singer Justin Bieber, who is scheduled to perform on NBC's Today show on Wednesday (Nov 18), reportedly demanded a dressing room far from Sheen's.

Bieber apparently was not present on the show when the former star of Two and a Half Men revealed that he had the virus live in the Manhattan studio to host Matt Lauer on Tuesday morning. But after the lengthy interview, he appeared in a taped segment showing off his skateboarding skills in advance of his concert in Rockefeller Plaza on Wednesday's Today show.

After Sheen's interview, British talk show host Piers Morgan said in a tweet -that included a photo of himself interviewing the Hollywood star: "Bravo @charlie sheen - that took guts today. Proud to be your mate."

Actress Heather Locklear also took to Instagram to share a photo of herself and Sheen - in their younger days - and wrote: "My heart hurts. Prayers for Charlie and his family."

Other celebrities weighed in from round the world, including Shekhar Kapur, the noted Indian director of such Hollywood films as Elizabeth. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Kapur's tweet was notable given what happened at the Today show studios the very day Sheen revealed his diagnosis. RadarOnline.com gossip website that reported that Bieber was uncomfortable about Sheen's presence on the same show a day before his concert segment.

"Justin's team has requested the dressing room away from Charlie," a source from the show told RadarOnline. "They want to make sure he's as far away from Charlie as possible."

"Justin wants nothing to do with Charlie," the source added.

In a lengthy, live interview with Lauer on the NBC's popular nationally-televised show on Tuesday, Sheen, 50, revealed that he was diagnosed HIV positive some four years ago. He said he was speaking out because he had been blackmailed to the tune of US$10 million (S$14.26 million) by people threatening to reveal his condition and to respond to tabloid reports that he has full-blown Aids that he was spreading intentionally to other people.

"I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of subtruths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, that threaten the health of so many others that couldn't be further from the truth," he said.

His personal doctor, Robert Huizenga, later appeared side-by-side with Sheen on the Today show and said the actor "does not have Aids".

The hard-partying actor, who has been divorced three times, played a womanising bachelor the TV sitcom Two and A Half Men for eight years. That made him the highest paid actor on US television, with a reported salary of US$1.8 million per episode at the time.

Here in Cleveland, he is fondly thought as the hard-throwing pitcher nicknamed "Wild Thing" in the classic baseball movie comedy Major League, released in 1989 when the city's professional team, the Cleveland Indians, were one of baseball's worst. In it, he leads the team to a championship - pitching to the classic rock song of the same name - after finding out that he is near-sighted, the reason for his wild pitching .and dons a pair of glasses.

His other film appearances include the classic movies, Platoon and Wall Street.

Sheen's downward spiral began in 2011, he was fired for bad behaviour that included a conviction for assaulting an ex-wife and cocaine-fuelled parties with porn stars such as Bree Olson.

Rumours about him possibly having Aids began circulating when RadarOnline.com posted a story about an unnamed actor's HIV-positive diagnosis. Other media, including People Magazine and the National Enquirer, followed.

Reaction to Sheen admitting he is HIV-positive began pouring in as soon as he had said it, as Lauer noted when winding up the interview.

"You guys have brought me to tears, I am profoundly touched by your honesty and that you took the high road against the losers," wrote a person using the name Laura Benedetti on Twitter.

Obakeng Mooke of South Africa tweeted: "That's how you own your truth, good on you @CharlieSheen #respect".

Others were not quite as kind.

In a mean-spirited tweet, @joshpaulsmith wrote: "It's not much of a surprise that Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, he's slept with half of America and done 1/4th of Earths entire drug supply."

Another Twitter user @keatingthomas cracked that: "Charlie Sheen has learned, like many promiscuous gentlemen before him, that he does not have a magic johnson."

Lauer confronted Sheen with a thought-provoking tweet from Jack Jason : I've always like Charlie Sheen, funny guy. Feel sorry for him, but his lifestyle kinda left him open for something like this."

To which, the actor responded: "That's not a completely inane or crazy statement. I have to look at both sides. But I'm going to ride this wave of support and, if there was one guy on this planet to contract this, that's gonna deliver a cure, it's me."

zach@sph.com.sg