Actor inks two-season deal for CBS comedy

CBS execs can breathe easy: Charlie Sheen has inked a two-season pact with Warner Bros. TV that calls for him to continue on “Two and a Half Men” in a deal worth nearly $2 million an episode to the thesp.

Deal was reached late Monday after months of wrangling between Sheen’s reps and Warner Bros. TV execs. Sheen was al ready the highest-paid thesp among contempo primetime TV actors under his previous salary of about $850,000 an episode. Now he’s the top grosser by a mile with a deal that will pay him about $1.3 million per seg in upfront salary.

Sheen’s sizable profit participation stake in the show is worth as much as $500,000 per episode, depending on how strong the barter advertising sales are in the syndie runs. Based on “Men’s” performance as the top-rated off-network sitcom for the past three years and the recovering ad market, it’s a safe bet the barter revenue from “Men” will remain strong through the term of his two-year pact. “Men’s” syndie ratings will also get a boost this fall when reruns bow on the FX cabler, in addition to running on local broadcast stations.

The new contract keeps Sheen shy of the record payday territory of around $1.8 million per seg that Ray Romano pocketed for his final round of “Everybody Loves Raymond” in the 2004-05 season.

“To put a fitting end on the two and one-half months of whirlwind speculation, I’m looking forward to returning to my CBS home on Monday nights,” Sheen said in a statement. “I want to thank (CBS chief) Les Moonves for his support.”

CBS execs had been anxiously awaiting the outcome of WBTV’s talks with Sheen as the Eye preps for its upfront sked presentation at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday.

Sheen floated the idea of his exiting “Men,” which is just wrapping its seventh season, in early April, when he let it be known to friends that he was ready to pack it in ( Daily Variety , April 5). Thesp has endured a rocky few months in the public eye as he battles criminal assault charges in Colorado stemming from his Christmas Day arrest for allegedly threatening his wife with a knife. He’s awaiting trial in July.

Although reps for Sheen insisted the actor’s ambivalence about continuing on the show was genuine, the private consensus among the key players involved was that a megabucks deal would be reached within 24-48 hours of CBS’ upfront.

Losing Sheen from “Men” would have been a major blow to the Eye and its Monday comedy stronghold. The 9 p.m. show ranks as primetime’s most-watched laffer, with an average of 14.7 million viewers this season. It’s the No. 2 laffer in adults 18-49, with a 4.8 rating/12 share, behind only its 9:30 p.m. skedmate “The Big Bang Theory.”

CBS has another two seasons to go on its deal with WBTV for “Men,” co-created and exec produced by Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn.

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