Charlie Sheen about to exit “Two and a Half Men”?

Sheenc CBS’ Monday night tentpole comedy may be losing one of its “Men.”

Troubled thesp Charlie Sheen, whose stint in rehab forced Warner Bros. TV to halt production on “Two and a Half Men” earlier this year, is now making rumblings about leaving the show all together — according to a report in People magazine.

CBS and Warner Bros. TV aren’t commenting on the news. It’s understood that the reports that surfaced midday on Thursday caught the net and studio by surprise. Sheen’s status is sure to be a topic of conversation at tonight’s taping of “Men.” We may know more on Friday.

Unfortunately for the Eye and for WBTV, Sheen would very much be free to split after this year. Although the Eye sealed a huge three-year pact with Warner Bros. last year to keep “Two and a Half Men” on the network through 2011-2012, the studio hadn’t secured Sheen’s services for that period.

That’s surprising — but then again, there was probably little reason to believe that Sheen would want to depart a job that makes him the highest-paid actor in television. Sheen currently pulls down nearly $900,000 an episode.

Now, it’s unclear whether Sheen’s departure, as star of the show, would nullify (or change the terms of) that renewal — as “Two and a Half Men” suddenly becomes a different show without Sheen. 

Insiders believe that Sheen’s rumblings could be part of a negotiating ploy — and indeed, it’s not unusual for series stars to make this kind of noise when their contracts are up. This is why long-running series become so expensive to produce over time, after all. (And Sheen is not nearly the highest-paid sitcom star of all time; the “Friends” cast was making at least $1 million a piece toward the end of their run, while Ray Romano cleared $2 million an episode by the end of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”)

But there’s an extenuating circumstance in this case: Sheen’s personal life, which has gone through some tumult as of late.

Production on “Two and a Half Men” was put on hold Feb. 23, as Sheen checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic for what was called a “preventative measure.” CBS and Warner Bros. eventually agreed to reduce this season’s episodic order from 24 to 22 in order to make up for the missing weeks.

Sheen was back to work on March 16, a day after he entered a not guilty plea in an Aspen court, on a domestic violence charge. Sheen was accused of allegedly threatening his wife, Brooke Mueller, with a knife.

If Sheen opts to leave, what are CBS’ and Warner Bros. TV’s options? Some have gagged that Michael J. Fox should step in, much as Sheen replaced Fox on “Spin City.”

Likewise, Sheen’s brother, Emilio Estevez (who has guested on the show), might make for a smooth transition, trading one brother/Brat Pack star for another. Our idea: In a horrible tanning bed accident, Charlie comes out looking a lot like… Martin Sheen! DONE.

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  1. I happened to examine your report and identified that your web site is so fantasic I have actually witnessed. Continue to keep in your superior work.

  2. Ed says:

    Calm down guys. Variety’s in the gutter and everyone knows it. This site might be the only thing the daily has left the way things are going. Hollywood Reporter struggling too with low circulation numbers. Face it guys, papers just don’t make money anymore in this digital age where you can get your movie news from anywhere.
    The Charlie Sheen thing – if Charlie goes, ‘Two and a Half Men’ is finished. Without Sheen, I give the show a lifespan of one season at best. He’s irreplacable and the main protagonist of the show. Truly the best sitcom actor and TV show on television at present and it will be sad to see it go. But it’s had a good run.
    Interesting to see what future sitcom the creators will come up with next. I know Chuck Lorre has Big Bang airing, but I want a new show from you, Mr. Lorre. I want a traditionl multi-cam sitcom and not that overrated 30 Rock, The Office one camera nonsense that no-one watches, but critics rewards.

  3. TiminPhx says:

    Why should he? He could spit on the flag, beat up his wife, molest some kids, hope that the terrorists win the wars and there will be enough brain dead and or leftist in the country who will still tune in his show.
    It’s evolved from a understandable and correct viewpoint of not letting say someone’s sexual orientation affect your viewpoint on a performer to the, “I don’t care what they do, they make me giggle” concept.

  4. Type says:

    Don’t be an idiot Jim. Variety has taken off all comments in their Film and Television sections – you know the ones people visit all the time. What use is being able to comment on a weblog like this one. No-one comes to this section of the variety webpage. And when they do it’s a complete accident.

  5. Jim says:

    An angry commenter complains that he can’t leave comments here… by leaving a comment here. Smart.

  6. Dan says:

    I’m going to exit myself from visiting VARIETY webpage.
    You guys removed the viewer comment sections in film and television. What’s wrong? A few writer/directors couldn’t take some audience criticism over the dumb deals that were being signed. And why did you sack your most trusted film reviewer of many years too.
    Bye Bye Variety and good riddance!
    This reader is heading over to the Hollywood Reporter instead where a diversity of opinion is respected.

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