Brett Butler: Leave Charlie Alone!

By Kirwan Gray 04/21/11

“People will hand you matches as you’re standing right next to that container of flammable stuff,” says the fallen sitcom queen.

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Brett Butler: Been There, Done That.
Photo via comedians.jokes

Charlie Sheen isn't the first huge star to have a drug-fueled downfall chronicled by a ravenous media. Former pill-popping sitcom star Brett Butler—whose show, Grace Under Fire, dominated TV ratings for six years in the 1990s--remembers the grim February day when she lost her hit TV show in 1998, after months of almost daily coverage of her exploits in the tabloid media. "All in one day, like a bad country song, my husband left me, I got fired and he even gave my dog to my sister," the long-struggling star recently confided in an interview with TV Guide. Now sober after years of ups and downs with pills and alcohol, Butler revealed that she feels a kind of kinship with Charlie Sheen, whom she deems a "great talent." For one thing, both of their sitcoms were created by writer/producer Chuck Lorre, now more famous as the object of Sheen's furious ire. Brett's clashes with Lorre were also the stuff of legend. She told the magazine that she lost all credibility with her cast and crew: "For me, active addiction removed all of my credentials for any kind of argument." (Since then, Butler says she has contacted Lorre and other principals on the show to make amends.) She also sympathizes with Sheen's rage about all the public scrutiny over a private addiction.  “I remember going to all the rehabs that they sent me to and being really pissed. Because if you’re not ready, you’re just not ready.” The 53 year-old actress lives on a farm in Georgia and has continued her stand-up career, while making a handful of appearances on shows like My Name is Earl and Last Comic Standing. "But now, having lost more than 100 pounds and getting back into fighting shape, the actress says she's ready for a comeback," TV Guide reports. She doesn't seem to miss Hollywood, however. She notes that while she was still in the game, there were plenty of “friends,” and friendly doctors, to keep her in pills whenever she wanted them. “People will hand you matches as you’re standing right next to that container of flammable stuff.” I [was] a complicated, interesting, talented woman with a broken ‘no’ switch. I would feel terrible to think there’s a lot more people that have to go through what I did."

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