Warner Bros. decision comes after Sheen tirade against creator
Warner Bros. and CBS have decided not to resume production on “Two and a Half Men” for the rest of the season following a lengthy tirade from star Charlie Sheen that included numerous swipes at series creator-exec producer Chuck Lorre.
“Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of ‘Two and a Half Men’ for the remainder of the season,” read a statement from CBS Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television.
The studio made the decision Thursday afternoon as recordings of Sheen’s interview with syndicated radio host Alex Jones went viral on the Internet. Later in the day, Sheen made further comments to TMZ.com (ironically a property owned by Time Warner) in which Sheen vented at Lorre, blaming the veteran showrunner for the shutdown of the show. He made remarks that could be construed as anti-Semitic in referring to Lorre by his given name, Charles Levine.
“OK, last I checked, Chaim, I spent I think close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold, and the gratitude I get is this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write,” Sheen said.
In an interview that Sheen is said to have initiated through a phone call to TMZ, he amplified his anger toward Lorre: “I violently hate Chaim Levine (Chuck Lorre). He’s a stupid, stupid little man and a p**sy punk that I’d never want to be like,” he said, according to a TMZ transcript. “That’s me being polite.
“That piece of s**t (Lorre) took money out of my pocket, my family’s pocket, and, most importantly, my second family — my crew’s pocket. You can tell him one thing. I own him.”
Amid Thursday’s fast-moving developments, it was unclear whether the network and studio have given up on the show entirely or still hope to regroup to produce a ninth season starting in late summer. CBS’ contract with Warner Bros. runs through the 2011-12 season.
Sheen has been in the headlines non-stop ever since Warner Bros. shuttered production on the show Jan. 28 in an effort to force the actor into rehab treatment.
Sheen’s camp and the studio agreed earlier this month to resume production on Monday after assurances from Sheen that he was sober and giving up his hard-partying lifestyle. But in the nearly half-hour interview with Jones, Sheen indicated he was angry at having been forced into rehab and for being pressured to apologize for his increasingly erratic behavior that accelerated during “Men’s” production hiatus over the holidays.
“Men” had been expected to produce four more episodes for its eighth season — four short of its original 24-episode order because of the monthlong shutdown. But after Sheen’s tirade, top brass at CBS and Warner Bros. and Lorre came to an agreement to scrap the rest of the season.
It’s understood that from Warner Bros.’ perspective, the studio is not obligated to pay Sheen for the remaining eight episodes on his contract for this season. But Sheen in the past few weeks has dropped hints about the possibility of suing the studio for the decision to shut down the show in January. Thursday’s decision to scrap the season may well provoke legal action from Sheen’s reps.
Sheen is the highest-paid actor on TV today with a contract that pay shim $1.2 million per episode. He has made tens of millions more through the success of “Men” reruns in syndication.
Reps for Sheen and Lorre declined comment.
Update: In a letter written to TMZ, Sheen writes:
What does this say about Haim Levine [Chuck Lorre] after he tried to use his words to judge and attempt to degrade me. I gracefully ignored this folly for 177 shows … I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power and can’t handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels especially if they wind up in my octagon. Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words — imagine what I would have done with my fire breathing fists. I urge all my beautiful and loyal fans who embraced this show for almost a decade to walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable wrong.
Remember these are my people … not yours…we will continue on together…