Charlie Sheen, WB near dismissal of legal fight

Sides close in on agreement as actor, studio seek to move on

On the same night that “Two and a Half Men” turned the page on the Charlie Sheen era, word surfaced that the long-running dispute between the actor and “Men” studio Warner Bros. is nearing an end.

At war since February over Sheen’s behavior — peaking with Sheen’s March 7 termination from the show — Warner Bros. and Sheen are getting closer to a deal that would dismiss the pending litigation between the sides and include a payment pegged at about $25 million. The payout would largely cover syndication coin from “Men” that Sheen is already owed. The studio stopped making all payments to the thesp after he was fired and the legal fight began.

While Warner Bros. said no deal had been reached, sources close to the situation affirmed that discussions were progressing toward an armistice that would involve some combination of monies owed to Sheen that have been withheld during the conflict, and a lump sum parting-of-the-ways payment.

Sheen filed a $100 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and “Men” exec producer Chuck Lorre over his termination and loss of income on March 10, at the height of the frenzy surrounding the actor, who made a series of highly publicized, larger-than-life rants in which he trashed nearly everyone and everything having to do with “Men.” That case has since been in the hands of an arbitrator, after Sheen attorneys failed to convince a court to move the case to a jury trial.

In contrast to his belligerent stance in last spring’s “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option” live tour and his bravado about having “tiger blood,” Sheen now appears to be set on trying to rehabilitate his acting career. Last week came a mea culpa on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” followed by his brief, no-joke remarks as a presenter Sunday’s Primetime Emmys, directed to the “Men” cast and crew, that seemed at least partially calculated to show he was ready to color inside the lines again — and employable.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for the coming season,” Sheen said onstage at the Nokia Theater. “We spent eight wonderful years together, and I know you will continue to make great television.”

Even that moment had a behind-the-scenes controversy, with Lorre’s camp and Warner Bros. brass said to be incensed that Sheen was given the opportunity to airbrush his reputation at an event ostensibly devoted to celebrating excellence in television.

Of course, just as Sheen’s camp is moving to put the chaos of the past seven months behind him, his meltdown is back in the spotlight as attention turns to Ashton Kutcher’s debut on “Men” and also with Monday’s “Roast of Charlie Sheen” on Comedy Central.

Sheen vowed to resurrect his career independent of “Men,” but so far, the results have been mixed. He is toplining a Lionsgate-produced TV adaptation of the 2003 feature comedy “Anger Management,” a project that is just getting off the ground and has not even been shopped to buyers. On the feature side, Sheen has been cast opposite Jason Schwartzman in the upcoming Roman Coppola film, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charlie Swan III” (Variety, Sept. 8) that involves a once-successful graphic designer whose life spirals out.

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