Martin Sheen Stars as Bill W. in AA Play

By Dirk Hanson 05/31/11

In a roundabout father-son faceoff, Martin Sheen headlines AA play as Charlie trashes it.

Will Charlie be in the audience?
Photo via salvagedstars

Call it settling karmic accounts, Hollywood-style.

Martin Sheen—Emmy-award winning star of West Wing—will headline a live benefit reading of the play Bill W. and Dr. Bob, about the two cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous, June 27 at LA's Geffen Playhouse. Sheen, who will play Bill W., credits AA for his longtime sobriety. By contrast, son Charlie, late of Two and a Half Men, famously denounced A.A. during his prolonged drug and alcohol meltdown on TVs nationwide, saying that the 80-year-old organization has only a 5% success rate and functions like a cult.

The play enjoyed a modest success in regional theaters, as well as an L.A. opening in 2002 and off-Broadwa yin 2007. The Sheen-led reading will help raise funds for Hazelden, the nationwide chain of nonprofit addiction treatment centers grounded in AA's 12-step programs, and it plans to secure financing for the play's Broadway debut and a national touring company to play college campuses "to fight the epidemic of binge drinking and provide scholarships to youth for treatment at Hazelden," organizers say.

Charlie Sheen, coincidentally, is also talking about taking his own Violent Torpedo of Truth Tour worldwide. The show, which was panned by critics and fans alike but played to many packed houses, reportedly earned the out-of-work star at least $7 million during its seven-week run, which ended May 2 in Seattle. The younger Sheen hasn't commented on his dad's upcoming gig, but only a Hollywood ending would see him in attendance.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]

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