Programming

Piers Morgan: I Booked Sheen By Calling Him At Home

CNN host talks to B&C about how the interview happened, and the critics' assertions it was a softball chat 3/01/2011 12:48:01 PM Eastern

RELATED: A Candid Interview With Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan landed a live television interview Monday night with Charlie Sheen with a series of events that ended simply by calling him at home, the CNN host said in an interview with B&C Tuesday morning. The live, hour-long interview Monday continued a string of Sheen media appearances that have garnered massive amounts of press attention.

Morgan's show had been pursing Sheen through PR maven Stan Rosenfield, but that hit a wall when the publicist quit on Monday.

"We put a lot of faith and trust in Stan who we have a great relationship with, but it was clear that wasn't going to work because [Sheen] was going to go rogue," says Piers Morgan Tonight executive producer Jonathan Wald. Sheen told Howard Stern Tuesday morning that Rosenfield quit via text message on Monday.

So the CNN show sent booker Julie Zann to Sheen's house to deliver a note from Morgan.

Morgan said he then phoned Sheen's house Monday and one of his daughters answered. Morgan told her to say it was Piers Morgan and that he wanted Charlie to come on the show. When Sheen's daughter repeated his name out loud, Morgan said he heard Sheen's voice in the background saying "Is that Piers?" Sheen then came to the phone.

"I told Charlie these taped interviews he was doing made him sound completely erratic, and why don't you come on with someone you have known for 20 years?" Morgan said.

Sheen agreed to do the interview and when Morgan asked him if he was sure he would turn up, Sheen told him, "I won't let you down."

But literally five minutes before the show was to go live at 6 p.m. PT, there was no sign of Sheen and Morgan and his staff were scrambling to throw together a back-up plan.

"Then at 5:55 his car swept in, he jumped out cigarette in hand, gave me a big bear hug and said, ‘Let's rock and roll,'" Morgan recalls.

The live interview garnered tons of media attention, as the press continues to follow every one of Sheen's highly-publicized moves. But Morgan was also dogged by some of the same criticisms he received after his early Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern interviews - that he was too soft.

For instance, Time magazine's James Poniewozik wrote under the headline "Charlie Sheen has a friend in Piers," noting that "Morgan's interview should at least have pressed Sheen on some difficult answers" and saying "Morgan is not even rising to the level of being the Larry King of CNN."

But Morgan fired back that his tone was just right.

"It makes me laugh, that people would say that was a softball interview," Morgan says. "They just don't get my interview style. If you go at someone too hard, they will just clam up. I don't care what the reviews say, that was a great interview."

While final ratings weren't out yet as of press time, Morgan hopes that the Sheen interview will boost his numbers going forward.

"This is the kind of television I had in mind when I came to CNN," he said.

Sheen has been on a wild streak of media interviews including ABC, NBC, TMZ and Howard Stern, many of which have included several seemingly-wild rants from the (possibly former) Two and a Half Men star. ABC's 20/20 is still scheduled to air a previously-taped interview with Sheen Tuesday night, despite the fact he has given several interviews since that taping. (See Related: Why ABC Should Cancel The Charlie Sheen '20/20')

 

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