My latest piece on the Charlie Sheen saga focuses on a little-discussed aspect of his lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre — his repeated accusation that Lorre had quit on “Two and a Half Men” weeks before Sheen’s outlandish public rants and his ensuing termination.
… Sheen declared himself ready to return to work Feb. 14. But, according to Sheen’s attorney Marty Singer, the actor was told that no scripts were ready.
Singer notes that during that hiatus, a decision was also made to reduce the 24-episode order for “Men” to 20 and end production of season eight on March 25 instead of the original April 8 date. This was ostensibly in response to Sheen’s condition, but Singer emphatically maintains that Sheen was always completely capable of working, and that for no reason should Sheen be held accountable for any reduction in “Men” episodes.
“This is called Spin City,” Singer told Variety last week. “That is a ridiculous concept. Nobody said (at the time) there was a problem with Charlie. All they said was Chuck was going to work (only) another four weeks, and that’s it. It’s a ridiculous, absurd excuse.”
Singer argued that because the next scheduled production week for “Men” was originally set for Jan. 31, Lorre should have had no problem having a script ready by Feb. 14.
The suit reads, “Lorre had no right to unilaterally discontinue the production of shooting scripts, and thereby interrupt the production schedule.”
Insiders with “Men” and Warner Bros. rebut this argument. They say that scripts were in progress and that one would have been ready for the Jan. 31 return date, but that the suspension of production on Jan. 28 included the series’ writers.
Once Sheen went into rehab, Lorre and Warners appear to have had no intention of resuming production on “Men” before Feb. 28 — that just because Sheen decided Feb. 14 was the day did not mean that it was so.
Implicit in WB’s reasoning is the belief that two weeks wasn’t sufficient rehab and recovery time for Sheen. Though Singer said Sheen was sober, others had concerns about taping based on his condition as well as his appearance. …
Below, here’s a timeline of events leading up to where things stand today:
Charlie Sheen Timeline
March 18: CBS and Warner Bros. TV announce three-season pickup for “Two and a Half Men,” though lead actor Charlie Sheen is signed for only one of those seasons at time.
Dec. 25: Sheen arrested for allegedly threatening wife Brooke Mueller with a knife, charged with domestic violence.
Feb. 23: “Men” production put on hold as Sheen checks himself into rehab as “preventative measure.”
March 15: Sheen pleads not guilty to domestic violence charge in Aspen.
March 16: Sheen returns to work on “Men.”
March 23: Lorre says in New York Times interview that plans to produce 24 episodes of “Men” in 2009-10 are scuttled, with order reduced to 22.
April 1: Sheen lets it be known that he’s ready to exit “Men.”
May 17: Barely 24 hours before CBS upfront presentation, Sheen signs two-season pact with Warner Bros. TV that will pay him for approximately $1.8 million per episode (including back-end revenue), up from $850,000.
Aug. 2: Sheen reaches deal to plead guilty to misdemeanor, with no jail time.
Oct. 25-26: Sheen goes on reported bender at Plaza Hotel that is explained by publicist Stan Rosenfield as an allergic reaction to medication.
Jan. 9: Lorre tells Television Critics Assn. panel that show taping two nights earlier with Sheen, “a true professional,” went without incident. That same weekend, Sheen is on what is reported to be massive party spree in Las Vegas.
Jan. 14: CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler tells TCA that network has “a high level of concern” about Sheen’s recent behavior.
Jan. 27: Sheen hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai for reported “severe abdominal pains” after reported wild night of partying during hiatus week for “Men.” That night, Lorre’s “Men” vanity card tells viewers, “Please keep in mind that we employ a highly-paid Hollywood professional who has years of experience with putting his life at risk. And sadly no, I’m not talking about our stunt man.”
Jan. 28: “Men” goes on abrupt production hiatus following announcement that Sheen is going into rehabilitation.
Feb. 2: Striking contrite tone, Sheen issues statement saying “I have a lot of work to do to be able to return the support I have received from so many people. I want to say ‘thank you’ to my fellow cast members, the crew of ‘Two and a Half Men,’ and everyone at CBS and Warner Bros., especially Les Moonves and Bruce Rosenblum for their concern and support.”
Feb. 14: The beginning of the end: Sheen, who says on “The Dan Patrick Show” that crack is OK “if you can manage it socially,” says that he is ready to go back to work on “Men,” but no one else was.
Feb. 14: That night, Lorre vanity card concludes, “If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed.”
Feb. 16: Reports indicate “Men” will resume production Feb. 28.
Feb. 24: Sheen takes tirade against Lorre to new level of vitriol on interviews with syndicated radio host Alex Jones and TMZ.
Feb. 24 (5:30 p.m.): CBS and WB issue joint announcement that “based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition,” production on “Men” is canceled for remainder of 2010-11 season.
Feb. 25: As Sheen vows in radio remarks to win the “war” over “Men,” taking on CBS topper Leslie Moonves in the process, Anti-Defamation League condemns Sheen for his pointed reference to Lorre as “Chaim Levine” in insulting rant.
Feb. 28: Nonstop series of Sheen interviews airs on NBC, ABC, TMZ.com, CNN and elsewhere. Rosenfield resigns as Sheen’s publicist.
March 1: Moonves tells conference audience that CBS will save money in short-term with “Men” out of production but expresses hopes for show’s eventual return.
March 1: Sheen opens Twitter account, rapidly moves past a million followers.
March 7: Warner Bros. sends Sheen 11-page termination notice.
March 10: Sheen files suit against Warner Bros. and Lorre for an amount “in excess of” $100 million over his termination and loss of wages. Later that day, he announces plans for live “Fastball; My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option Show” tour, starting in Detroit on April 2.
March 23: An L.A. Superior Court rejects temporary restraining order request from Sheen’s camp to keep arbitrator from refereeing case rather than a jury trial.