Charlie Sheen was in town. It got Big Deal treatment from WXIA and competing Atlanta TV stations.
Prior to his stage show at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, Jaye Watson and photog David Brooks found Sheen at Georgia Tech’s ballpark, where Sheen was taking BP with Tech’s baseball players. It turned out to be the scoop of the day.
I didn’t actually see Watson roll her eyes when she got assigned to Sheenwatch Thursday dayside. The show was a nightside story. We knew Sheen was in town. He’d done a radio interview. Watson figured out that a local strip club was doing some kind of Sheen lookalike contest. She pondered interviewing a stripper. It was thin gruel.
Our laughably young and arguably brilliant Manager of Content, Ben Mayer, began noodling around the internet. He searched Sheen’s name, plus “Atlanta” on Twitter. A post emerged that said: At a secret location right now. Watching Charlie Sheen play baseball. It was written by a WGST radio talk show host named Rusty Humphries.
Mayer continued to noodle, and found that Humphries had included a geotagging component in his posts. The geotag didn’t emerge until Mayer clicked the Tweet, which showed a map, plus longitude and latitude. It put the post at I-75/85 and roughly 7th Street. Mayer looked at the map, and saw Russ Chandler Stadium about two blocks to the southwest. He called Watson.
She and Brooks showed up at the stadium and heard the sounds of batting practice. They walked toward the dugout. A Georgia Tech Sports Information PIO intercepted them and told them they had to leave. He escorted them to the gate, and locked them out.
Watson asked him if Charlie Sheen was there. He said he wasn’t.
But the behavior was sketchy. If Sheen’s not here, why can’t we watch batting practice? The PIO began belittling the crew for showing up there based on a Tweet.
Once outside the gate, a Tech security guard showed up. The guard confirmed what the PIO wouldn’t: He was there to keep the Sheen BP orderly. Watson and Brooks waited with the guard for an hour. Thanks to Twitter and text messages, the crowd outside the gate grew. It included a gaggle of female admirers who wanted to invite Sheen to their sorority party that night.
Sheen came to the gate, and Watson’s interview with him was very casual, yet newsy and appropriate to the occasion. If she was tempted to lapse into Sheen-speak, questioning him about tiger blood and such, she completely resisted. She let the Sheen weirdness emerge naturally. To my knowledge, it was his only Atlanta TV interview that day. The raw interview is embedded below.
As Watson and Brooks departed Russ Chandler Stadium, the obfuscatory Tech PIO said: Well, it all worked out in the end, didn’t it?
No thanks to you, pal. Georgia Tech Assistant Director of Athletics for Media Relations Dean Buchan, who gave a first-hand account of Sheen’s BP heroics to the AJC, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Users of Twitter may wish to check their preferences and see if they’re geotagging, especially when tweeting about “secret” locations. The rest of us can ponder why any PIO would feel compelled to dissemble in order to provide cover for a man who clearly craves media attention.
The good news: WGST is apparently paying local talk show hosts again. And Watson, who’s much better known for her thoughtful writing and storytelling skills, is a hell of a tabloid reporter. Especially with Mayer’s help.