The TV Column: Sheen's conduct spurs season shutdown of 'Two and a Half Men'

By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011; 11:57 PM

CBS and Warner Bros. TV have taken the extraordinary step of scrapping production on the country's most popular comedy series, "Two and a Half Men," for the rest of the season after star Charlie Sheen went on his most breathtaking radio tear yet Thursday.

"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," the two companies said Thursday in a statement.

Their announcement came hours after recordings of a Sheen interview with syndicated radio personality Alex Jones began whizzing around the Web, in which Sheen repeatedly attacked the show's creator, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous, the chicks he parties with and possibly even Thomas Jefferson.

"There's something this side of deplorable that a certain Chaim Levine - yeah, that's Chuck's real name - mistook this rock star for his own selfish exit strategy, bro," Sheen said in the radio rant.

"Check it, Alex: I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that this un-evolved mind cannot process. 'Last I checked, Chaim, I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold.' And the gratitude I get is [that] this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write."

Show creator Lorre's given name is Charles M. Levine.

(Q&A, 1 P.M.: Lisa De Moraes takes your questions)

At one point in the interview, Sheen is heard calling Thomas Jefferson a wimp.

Regarding the company he keeps, Sheen had this to say: "If I bring up these turds, these . . . losers, there's no reason to then bring them back into the fold because I have real fame - they have nothing. They have zero. They have that night. And I will forget about them as the last image of them exits my beautiful home."

Sheen also dismissed Alcoholics Anonymous as a "bootleg cult."

"I have a disease? [Expletive] - I cured it . . . with my mind. . . . It's all good, guys. Quit panicking. No panic, no judgment. . . . You can kill me but you do not have the right to judge me.

" . . . I can't use the word 'sober' because that's a term from those people, and I have cleansed myself. I have closed my eyes and in a nanosecond, I cured myself. . . . It's just the work of sissies. The only thing I'm addicted to right now is winning. You know?"

Sheen continued to rant:

"This bootleg cult arrogantly referred to as A.A. now supports a 5 percent success rate. My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math! One of their stupid mottoes is, 'Don't be special, be one of us.' News flash: I am special and I will never be one of you. . . . I'm going to hang out with these two smokin' hotties and fly privately around the world. It might be lonely up here, but I sure like the view."

(AUDIO: Listen to a clip from the Alex Jones interview)

Late Thursday, in response to the decision by CBS and Warner Bros. to shut down production, TV's highest-paid actor wrote a note to the tabloid Web site-cum-syndicated show TMZ in which he pronounced Lorre "a contaminated little maggot" and said that he had defeated Lorre "with my words - imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists." Sheen added: "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."

The TV Column reached a representative for Lorre, who declined to comment. Representatives for Sheen could not be reached at press time.

Warner Bros. and CBS temporarily - or so they thought at the time - shelved production on the show in late January while the actor entered Charlie Sheen's Rehabilitation Facility, in Charlie Sheen's House, Calif.

That obviously went well.

During his stint in rehab, a clearly bored Sheen had called in to radio's "The Dan Patrick Show" once or twice to chat about his "forced hiatus" and to dispense advice to Lindsay Lohan. But that's kids' stuff compared with his comments Thursday, in which he said, among other things: "I've got magic. I've got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time - and this includes naps - I'm an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordnance to the ground."

Production on the sitcom had been scheduled to resume Monday and the plan was to shoot four more episodes with which to fill out the remainder of the TV season.

CBS will now have to punt with "Men" out of commission for at least the rest of the season. Fortunately for CBS, "Two and a Half Men" episodes repeat very well in the show's Monday time slot.

Sorry, Charlie.

ABC's 2020 Oscar vision

Nearing Sunday's Oscarcast, ABC and the motion-picture academy announced Thursday that the network has locked exclusive broadcast rights to the trophy show through 2020.

ABC's current contract for the Oscars was set to run out in 2014. The new deal with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ensures that the Mother of All Trophy Shows will have played on ABC for 45 consecutive years.

That record-book entry will cost ABC about $50 million a year, trade paper Variety has reported.

On the plus side: The Academy Awards is the country's most watched non-sports program; last year's trophy show clocked an average of more than 41 million viewers.

The 83rd annual Academy Awards, which airs live Sunday, will be the 36th consecutive Oscarcast on ABC.

"ABC is absolutely the very best place for the Academy Awards, a television event that is beloved and watched by millions of movie lovers all over the world," academy President Tom Sherak said modestly Thursday.

Slimmer Emmys

On a smaller scale, the television academy has found a way to streamline its pudgy Primetime Emmy Awards show and placate broadcasters.

Starting with the trophy show this September, the races for best miniseries and best made-for-TV movie will be combined.

The new, merged category will have six nominees, instead of the usual five.

ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox - which have taken turns airing the trophy show for many years - have been virtually out of the movie and miniseries businesses for years.

Those so-called long-form races are now dominated by public broadcasting, basic cable networks and, mostly, pay cabler HBO. Last year's televised Emmy ceremony included eight movie and miniseries categories. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox would rather not pay a license fee to the TV academy for the privilege of airing eight big wet kisses to HBO.

More important, broadcasters argue, many American viewers have never seen the nominated long-form programs and therefore are not invested in the outcomes of those categories, which can't be good for Emmy ratings.

That's usually when someone from one of the cable networks points out that the brighter stars in the Hollywood firmament who actually do show up at the televised Emmy ceremony are probably good for the show's ratings and they're often people nominated for long-form projects. Last year, for example, Tom Hanks, executive producer of HBO's miniseries "The Pacific," and Al Pacino, star of HBO's TV movie "You Don't Know Jack," both showed up and gave acceptance speeches.

The move announced Thursday is more symbolic than it is a sweeping change. The merged categories will have six nominees, instead of the five apiece they might have had as separate categories. But last year, there were only two nominees for best miniseries: "The Pacific" and PBS's "Return to Cranford."

In fact, it's that lack of miniseries nominations at last fall's Emmy Awards - as well as the previous year - that did in the category. It appears that the academy has a long-standing rule allowing its board to take a look at any category that can't scrape together five nominees for two successive years. The board has the option to:

A. Delete that category.

B. Consolidate it with another category.

C. Leave well enough alone.

Last year's race for best made-for-TV movie included PBS's "Endgame," Lifetime's "Georgia O'Keeffe," History's "Moonshot," as well as HBO's "The Special Relationship," "Temple Grandin" and "You Don't Know Jack."

Full disclosure: All the other miniseries and TV movie derbies have been merged for several years - into categories such as outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie, outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie, blah, blah, blah.

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