The Sheen Scheme

How Charlie Sheen's supposed scholarly honor from SU made for an April Fools' prank.

Charlie Sheen - April Fools JokeWe have 359 days left to plan for next year's April Fools' Day, but I'm not sure we'll ever top last week's Charlie Sheen gag.

Our fake news story about Syracuse University awarding Charlie Sheen an honorary degree for #winning in social media was seen by more than 5,500 people and reached 787 shares on Facebook.

Andrew Petrie, one of our lead producers, came up with the idea to pull a Sheen-related prank. Originally, we wanted to announce Sheen as the 2011 commencement speaker. But that plan was thwarted after SU announced a week before April Fools' Day that scientist J. Craig Venter would speak at commencement.

So on to plan B. Our lead producing team came up with the idea of SU and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications awarding Sheen an honorary degree for his recent accomplishments in social media. Roy Gutterman, director of The Tully Center for Free Speech, went along with our prank and allowed us to write fake quotes about Sheen's free speech accomplishments, and his #tigerblood. Luis Rendon worked his magic and added a little 'Cuse to two photos of Sheen, and I wrote the least suspicious news story I could counterfeit.

Here are a few of the reactions we got via Facebook, Twitter and our website:

"Regardless of whether or not is a joke, I'm hoping SU's Newhouse School will give @BronxZoosCobra an honorary degree."

"This is what education is all about. This is what free-speech is all about. Students are not mindless robots - they are able to formulate their own ideas and thoughts. Charlie Sheen may not be the guy you want to bring home to meet your parents - but the guy is accomplished."

"PS @ If this is , then you got me-- I read this before coffee. Nice job."

"@ @ HAS 2B joke. Nice touch: He 'exemplifies our university's commitmnt to comm. engagmnt & Scholarship.'"

"It's about time you media trolls recognized Charlie Sheen's rock star from Mars brilliance. Duh! Can you say WINNING, again? He will EXPLODE at SU, splattering all the little people with his righteous tiger blood."

Yeah... I fell for it.

Yeah... I fell for it.

So hilarious, guys. Well

So hilarious, guys. Well played.

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