CBS has figure out its Sheen tolerance level

While contemplating her answer to the inevitable Charlie Sheen question, Nina Tassler was a mom and wife first, not a network president at Friday’s TCA session.Nina%20tassler

She spoke with slight trepidation, but didn’t back away. In words that weren’t spoken but implied, she’s genuinely afraid of what happen to the person Charlie Sheen, not the “Two and a Half Men” actor Charlie Sheen.

“On a very basic human level, I am concerned, of course. This man is a father, he has children, he has a family,” said the CBS topper, adding later: “He knows we’re concerned.”

But, as the president of a publicly traded company, she also understands that Sheen’s sitcom continues to garner strong ratings and is a huge profit center for the Eye.

“You can’t look at it simplistically,” Tassler said. “Charlie is a professional. He comes to work. He does his job extremely well. We are taping tonight. It’s very complicated, but we have a very good relationship with Warner Bros. TV. We have tremendous trust and respect with the way they are managing the situation. On a personal level, we obviously have concern. On a professional level, he does his job and he does it well. This show is a hit. That’s all have to say.”

Tassler’s penultimate sentence speaks volumes. If the show was on the ratings bubble, a network might believe the negative headlines aren’t worth the trouble and either cancel the show or fire Sheen. But as a huge hit in a sea of underperforming sitcoms, the situation becomes much more compilcated.

The question of how to handle Sheen’s antics relies just as much, if not more, with Warner Bros., which produces “Two and a Half Men.” They’re selling the show and might be more willing to put up with Sheen than CBS.

It’s the network that’s taking the PR hit, not Warner Bros. No one outside Hollywood understands that Sheen works for Warners, not CBS.

Eventually, if Sheen’s inappropriate actions continue, Tassler and CBS supremo Leslie Moonves will have to determine both their and the network’s tolerance level of bad behavior from one its top stars.

Or maybe a sudden drop in ratings will make their decision easier. Ultimately in showbiz, it’s the dollar the weighs most heavily.

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