ASPEN - Theatre Aspen could have a new "artist in residence" over the next few weeks, and his name is Charlie Sheen.
Part of a plea agreement - expected to be introduced to a judge Monday in Pitkin County District Court - includes the actor performing useful public service at Theatre Aspen, located a short walk downhill from Pitkin County Jail. The other component includes a jail sentence of 30 days for Sheen, though he would have to serve just 18 of those if he behaves well, officials said.
Theatre Aspen's artistic director, Paige Price, said Friday that Sheen's lawyers approached her about having the star of the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" work at the nonprofit periodically during the daytime hours.
Sheen's duties could include working with Theatre Aspen's education programs, as well providing help for the three upcoming summer shows that are going into rehearsal, Price said.
"I certainly think he has the career credentials," Price said. "And he could possibly teach a class or do question-and-answer sessions. If this could benefit the Theatre Aspen's actors or students, I would certainly be amenable to it."
The summer slate for Theatre Aspen, located off of the Rio Grande Trail near the Roaring Fork River, includes such performances as "defying gravity: Theatre Aspen Takes on Broadway's Biggest Hits," "The Marvelous Wonderettes," and "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!" Two of its summer camps, Sharpen Your Skills (June 7-24) and Fun in the Theatre (June 14-24), will be held while Sheen serves his time here, should Judge James Boyd approve the plea agreement.
Assistant Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin confirmed that Sheen, who recently renegotiated his sitcom contract to the tune of nearly $2 million per episode, could leave the jail periodically to work at Theatre Aspen.
"There have been discussions about him doing useful public service working in an educational capacity with Theatre Aspen," he said. He declined to elaborate.
Sheen is expected to plead guilty to third-degree assault a misdemeanor. In exchange, the prosecution would drop the most significant charge, felony menacing, along with the misdemeanor count of criminal mischief. Sheen was arrested Christmas Day after he allegedly threatened his wife, Brooke, with a knife at the West End home where she was staying.
Price said that despite the allegations against Sheen, she feels he would be an asset to Theatre Aspen.
"I would be lying it I didn't say I wish he was going to jail for a lot of parking tickets," she said. "But what happens in his personal life is his business. That might seem naive, but that's how I see it."
Price said she also plans to drum up other chores for Sheen.
"I will have to put on my creative hat this weekend and come up with something," she said.
As is the case with all inmates at the Pitkin County jail, once Sheen leaves the premises he would be on his own, and without an escort such as a deputy.
Jail officials also would keep tabs on Sheen by checking with his public-service supervisor, Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis said.
"The policy includes telephone checks and there has be someone that we can call," Braudis said.
While the jail does not allow tobacco use of any kind, Sheen, widely reported to be a chain smoker, would be free to light up while he's on public property, or other venues that allow such activity. He would not be allowed to bring cigarettes to the jail, Braudis said.
Both Mordkin and Braudis said they're fighting a public perception battle when it comes to Sheen's pending plea agreement and the jail that will be housing him. Should Boyd OK the plea agreement, Sheen would go straight to jail after the hearing.
Mordkin said Sheen is not getting special treatment by the plea agreement. In fact, the jail time he faces demonstrates that Sheen is in line for a more punitive sentence than other offenders in the same situation, Mordkin said.
"He's really not getting anything different than the average person under similar circumstances would receive," Mordkin said, "and perhaps, he's receiving a little more harsh treatment."
Braudis said media calls have been flooding into his office regarding the perceived cozy confines of the Pitkin County Jail. On Thursday, the jail house's website posted a series of photos of the building's interior, including inmate cells, the gym area, and common room, among other areas.
Braudis also has scheduled a press conference after Sheen's hearing, scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday.
"We received a ton of media inquires about our jail with the standard assumption that it's a country club, a cushy jail," the sheriff said. "The jail staff is uncomfortable with all these calls about it being a cushy jail, and their stress levels were increasing, so I volunteered to be the media contact for the jail."
Braudis said Sheen will eat what the other inmates eat while in custody of the jail - food that's prepared at Aspen Valley Hospital.
"Balanced, hot, varied, dietitian approved inmate meals are provided daily, through an agreement with Aspen Valley Hospital Nutritional Services Department," the jail's website says.
Sheen will be allowed to mingle with inmates in the multipurpose room, where there's a television set and an area to play cards.
His 65-square-foot cell will consist of a bed, a desk and chair, a sink and a toilet.
Mordkin said he's confident that the judge will approve the plea agreement.
"It's not my experience with Judge Boyd that he doesn't accept our recommendations," Mordkin said.