The pressures of fame and fortune can send even the toughest of stars over the edge, as Hollywood legend Charlie Sheen’s most recent antics have shown. However, allegations have surfaced that there is a conspiracy to deliberately push some top celebrities to insanity. “Charlie Sheen isn’t the first guy to fall victim,” notorious Hollywood private eye Herb Flucker has claimed in an exclusive interview with the popular tabloid Weekly World Shopper. “I saw the same thing happen to Randy Quaid – they started intercepting his mail so he didn’t get his royalty cheques, then they started screwing up his hotel bills to get him charged with fraud. Before you knew it, he was fleeing to Canada spouting off to journalists about how there was a conspiracy to off him for the insurance money!” Whilst Quaid is right about there having been a conspiracy against him, Flucker believes that he is wrong about its nature and perpetrators. “Trust me, they don’t want to off him – as long he’s talking this crazy talk, he’s worth a fortune to these guys,” opines the fifty-four year old former Albuquerque police officer, who claims to have evidence that a consortium of showbiz journalists, entertainment publications and paparazzi are behind the plot. “How else could they manage to fill up those column inches if it wasn’t for stars going whacko? Nobody’s going to pay money to read about Lindsay Lohan being sober and not crashing her car, or pictures of Mel Gibson helping little old Jewish ladies across the street. The public wants drunken rants, drug fuelled violence and sleazy sex scandals.”

According to the private eye – who became infamous in 2001 for his part in an alleged plot by Alec Baldwin, Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Pitt and several other Hollywood stars to sell candid photographs of their then spouses to Readers’ Wives magazine – claims to have stumbled across the plot to drive celebrities insane to create headlines, during an investigation on behalf of a top Hollywood star. “I was meeting with this notorious paparazzi in this dive of a bar – I was acting as a go-between to obtain some very compromising pictures of my client from him – when he let slip his part in driving Charlie Sheen crazy,” he told the Weekly World Shopper. “He told me how last year he and a couple of other hacks had slipped Sheen a Mickey in the bar of a New York hotel. While he was passed out in his room, they planted a couple of drugged baboons in his bed. When they all came round at the same time, all Hell broke loose, with Charlie, stark naked, running shrieking into the corridor, and the two baboons trashing the suite.” With the baboons surreptitiously removed and collusion from the NYPD, Sheen was arrested for causing $7000 worth of damage – his claims of baboons in his bed dismissed as the drug-addled ravings of a mad man – providing the tabloids with weeks of sensational headlines.

“Apparently the baboon stunt was designed to push Sheen completely over the edge, making him question his own sanity when everybody else denied the existence of the baboons,” explains the private eye, who, after plying the paparazzi with alcohol, gleaned further details of the sinister plot. “The idea was that he would now be highly susceptible to some ‘Manchurian Candidate’ style mental programming.” Indeed, according to Flucker’s source, the supposed hospital Sheen was taken to for ‘observation’ in the wake of the baboon incident was actually specialised brainwashing facility. “Basically, they’ve succeeded in programming him so that all they have to do is call him up, say the right key word, and he’ll act in any crazy way they like,” Flucker revealed to the tabloid. “Trust me, every time circulation starts to flag, or the viewing figures dip, one of this press cabal’s operatives gets on the phone, and next thing Charlie Sheen is generating headlines by giving crazy interviews, breaking up hotel rooms and assaulting people.” Not everyone is convinced by Flucker’s claims. “Frankly, this idea of a cabal of paparazzi and showbiz journalists and editors brainwashing celebrities is quite ludicrous,” top Texas conspiracy theorist and disc jockey yesterday told listeners to his internet radio show. “Everybody knows that it’s the Bush family and the Bilderberg Group trying to discredit Sheen because of his public repudiation of the 9/11 cover-up!”

However, most commentators reject the idea of a conspiracy to drive celebrities insane for the sake of headlines outright. Top psychologist Eddie Hawick, for instance, who has been studying celebrity insanity for several years on behalf of several British tabloid newspapers, believes that the Two and a Half Men star’s spectacular and public meltdown, whilst one of the most extreme cases he has ever encountered, is simply a natural consequence of the pressures of modern celebrity. “There’s no doubt that the trigger for this sort of celebrity behaviour is usually the imminent ending of their fifteen minutes of fame as they see their fickle fans deserting them for the next passing media sensation,” opines Hawick. “Their apparent spectacular headlong tumble into the abyss of insanity represents one final attention-seeking attempt to desperately cling to their shattered dreams. Frankly, I fear that their pantomime antics have set back the public’s perception of mental illness by decades.”

However, Hawick himself has been accused of exploiting the mental distress of celebrities by deliberately exaggerating the nature of their psychiatric problems for the benefit of the tabloids for which he acts as a consultant. “Only last year he was reprimanded by the British Psychological Society, for abusing his professional standing to give credence to sensational, and substantially untrue, tabloid tales of celebrity craziness,” claims leading showbiz solicitor Reg Scratchings. “He’s been doing it for years – the papers phone him up, describe some supposedly bizarre behaviour on the part of a celebrity, and he does a ‘diagnosis’ for them, invariably concluding that the celeb in question is a homicidal maniac.” More often than not, Scratchings alleges, the tabloids simply fabricate their accounts of celebrity madness, guided by Hawick’s diagnoses. “That’s the truth of it, they don’t have to drive celebrities insane and brainwash them,” he says. “They just exaggerate a few eccentricities, or the odd instance of drunkenness, into full blown psychosis!”

Flucker is sticking to his guns, insisting that the conspiracy against Sheen and other top celebrities is real. Indeed, he claims to have obtained information that the Sheen conspiracy is about to step up a gear. “This is going to be even bigger than the time they forced two bottles of tequila down Mel Gibson’s throat, primed him with anti-Semitic rants, and stuck him behind the wheel of his car,” he told the Weekly World Shopper. “With all this stuff in the Middle East forcing trivial entertainment stories out of the headlines, the cabal has decided it wants a piece of the action, so they’re planning to get Charlie Sheen to single-handedly invade Libya and challenge Colonel Gaddafi to a nude wrestling contest.” The private eye ended his interview with an impassioned plea to the public not to hate celebrities for their out-of-control behaviour. “Look, it’s easy to despise these guys as over paid and over privileged jerks,” he says. “But the truth is that they can’t help themselves. They really can’t help themselves – they’re being manipulated by dark forces beyond their control!”