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Five Disgraced Celebrities and the Animal Puppets that Could Redeem Them
Mel Gibson gets a stuffed friend in The Beaver; what about Charlie Sheen?
By Rachel Shukert
Opening this week is Jodie Foster's The Beaver, which stars Mel Gibson as a disturbed toy-company executive who communicates solely through a stuffed beaver puppet. And while the premise sounds like stuff of Ambien hallucinations, the pre-release buzz on Gibson's performance is that it might prove redemptive for the troubled star. With that in mind, we couldn't help but think of a few other disgraced celebrities who could use puppet friends. Please come with us on some Ambien hallucinations of our own.
1. Charlie Sheen and Cousin Lenny Striped Tiger
After finishing his "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour, Charlie Sheen needed something new. So he took some advice from his friend Mel (image restored, career on track), and decided to get a puppet. When Mister Rogers' Neighborhood's Daniel Striped Tiger spurned Sheen's offer to form a touring act, Sheen extended a similar (although substantially less lucrative) contract to Daniel's second cousin Lenny, evicted from the Neighborhood of Make Believe in 1987 when he was caught huffing paint with a young Prince Tuesday. Now an auto-body repairman, Lenny considered it his duty to "help out a tiger brother," and immediately joined Sheen on a thirty-two-city tour, where his colorful (and almost certainly fictional) tales of debauchery in the puppet demimonde quickly outshined even his famously libertine co-star's. The tour was a critical and commercial smash ("Raucous yet astonishingly poignant... Sheen is the Edgar Bergen of the twenty-first century" — Hilton Als, The New Yorker) and the pair's edgy new sitcom The Tiger Bros. lands on FX's fall schedule. Jon Cryer could not be reached for comment.
2. Lindsay Lohan and Allison the Woodchuck
The chronically troubled Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen star met Allison (known to friends as "Al") in the arts and crafts studio of the L.A. County Jail, where they bonded over their mutual love of clove cigarettes, Fritos, and latch hooking. On the outside, their close friendship quickly turned to love. On Al's urging, Lohan announced her intention to retire from the public eye, and the couple adjourned to the woodchuck's native Vermont, where they're converting their 185-year-old farmhouse into an energy efficient, lesbian-friendly bed and breakfast. Samantha Ronson could not be reached for comment.
3. John Edwards and "Judy," of Punch and Judy fame
After finally walking out on Punch, her verbally and physically abusive husband and creative partner of 400 years, legend of puppetry Judy wondered about the future of her performing career — until she met John Edwards at a bar in Des Moines, IA. The two struck up a conversation, one thing led to another, and the next thing Judy knew, she was waking up in the disgraced former senator's suite at the attached Ramada Inn, wearing only her socks and her wedding ring. By the time Edwards emerged from the shower, she'd come up with the idea for the act that would eventually bring them such acclaim: Judy, the battered wife, wreaks vengeance on John Edwards, the cad, in a kind of cathartic public penance, beating him about the head and neck with a cane, a chair, and a string of sausages, as children of all ages laugh and clap with delight. The act rehabilitated Edwards's public image, and he's slated to appear on the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice, while eyeing a South Carolina gubernatorial run in 2014. Judy, for her part, is highly touted to replace Sherri Shepherd on The View. Sherri Shepherd could not be reached for comment.
4. John Galliano and Shlomo the Auschwitz Squirrel
A native of Oswiecim, Poland, who spent the war years hidden in an oak tree overlooking the notorious concentration camp named for his hometown, Shlomo the Auschwitz Squirrel was especially alarmed by the now-infamous video footage of Galliano's drunken anti-Semitic rant in a Paris café. Not that the squirrel wanted to judge: "I look at this person and I think, this isn't a bad person," Shlomo later told The Jewish Daily Forward. "This is an ignorant person. This is a person, he doesn't know what he's saying, he doesn't know what Hitler did." A veteran Holocaust educator in school and churches, Shlomo traveled to Paris at great personal expense to fill the designer in on the unspeakable horrors he witnessed from his arboreal wartime perch. Galliano was shocked, but extraordinarily receptive, and so inspired by Shlomo's lithe figure and bushy tail that he ventured for the first time into rodentwear. ("Nice stuff," says Shlomo, "not shmattas.") The two plan to collaborate soon on a clothing line they hope will bring new bustle to America's decimated garment industry. Natalie Portman cannot be reached for comment.
5. Rob Lowe and Hamster Howie
Conspicuously absent from Rob Lowe's recent autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, was any mention of Hamster Howie, the 12" plush hamster puppet who was the actor's companion for more than three years in the early '90s. "When I met Rob, his career was on the wane," said Mr. Howie, from his new home in the permanent woodland creature display at His Majesty's Toys and Treasures in Germantown, PA. "The sex-tape scandal had just broke and he was in a pretty dark place. I helped him get his life back on track, got him dried out, took care of him. I gave him everything I had. Sure, I loved the lifestyle, but mostly I loved Rob." Still, the hamster says he isn't bitter. "A mention would have been nice. But Rob knows what we had. He understands the deep love that can exist between man and hamster. It's just too bad he doesn't think any of his 'friends' should know that too." Rob Lowe could not be reached for comment.