Charlie Sheen made news again Thursday. But this time, it wasn't about drugs, sex or his pending divorce -- well, maybe a little sex. His Two and a Half Men character, Charlie Harper, isn't exactly the most celibate cat on the small screen, but playing the cad landed Sheen his first-ever Emmy nomination, for lead actor in a comedy series.
His top-rated, 3-year-old series also got its first nomination as best comedy, and costar Jon Cryer received his first nod for supporting actor.
The conventional CBS sitcom about Harper, a decadent bachelor whose life changes when his neurotic and repressed brother Alan (Cryer) and 10-year-old nephew, Jake (Angus T. Jones), move into his Malibu beach house was the season's No.1 comedy.
Though it garners an average 15 million viewers, Two and a Half Men has never been a critical darling, making its junior-year recognition even sweeter for creator Chuck Lorre, and its cast and crew.
"The fact that there's an audience out there that tunes into this show every week, we don't overlook that," Lorre said. "We have a tremendous obligation to deliver a show that fulfills the promise that a comedy makes, which is that we'll make you laugh. I would love to try to be cool and jaded, but we're jumping up and down. It's good to be filled with childish joy today, which is quite unlike me."
Sheen, apparently, was ecstatic over the news, said Lorre and Cryer, who spoke to him on the telephone. The actor was not available for interviews on Thursday, focusing instead on caring for his children.
Sheen did make time to issue a statement: "What a great way to start the day -- I'm extremely happy for all of the nominations our show received today. Everyone worked really hard to achieve this kind of recognition. I'm proud to be a part of it."
The recognition was especially gratifying coming as it did during such a tumultuous year for Sheen. "Here's a guy that has to face the public every [every week] and make regular folks laugh while all this stuff is coming out in the tabloids and the news," said Cryer. "It's rough."
Cryer added that the Monday-night show's seven nominations (it also was recognized for outstanding cinematography, multicamera picture-editing, guest actor and multicamera sound mixing) helped reassure Sheen that his personal woes did not affect the show's quality.
"He was really worried about keeping up the quality of the work on the show because it's so distracting and awful. Plus, the fear and horror that is modern divorce in California," Cryer said. "It was a very emotional year for him, and this was a big relief that he felt like he'd kept up his end of the bargain."
Like Lorre, Cryer said he wishes he could have been like the "cool actor who rolls out of bed, lights a cigarette and learns he's won an Oscar. That was not me! I was stumbling around my house in my underwear. I didn't want to care about this, and it just sort of snuck up on me."
The show's recognition is particularly noteworthy at a time when traditional sitcoms have given way to single-camera shows or hybrids that include hand-held cameras.
"We've always aimed to be an old-school show," Cryer said. "We've never tried to change that, and I think there's a point where people just got it. We're not reinventing the wheel. We're just going to make you laugh every week, and we've always been proud of that."
Maria Elena Fernandez writes for the Los Angeles Times.
For a complete list of Emmy nominations, see baltimoresun.com/emmy.