[Updated with passages from the letter of termination sent by Warner Bros. Television]
Charlie Sheen has been fired from CBS’s “Two and a Half Men.”
No decision has been made about the future of the show, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation who did not wish to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about details of the situation for the record.
Warner Bros. TV, which produces the show for CBS, did the firing, in a letter sent to Sheen’s attorney on Monday.
“Your client has been engaged in dangerously self destructive conduct and appears to be very ill, “ Warner Bros TV said in the letter addressed to Sheen’s lawyer, Martin Singer.
“For months before the suspension of production, Mr. Sheen’s erratic behavior escalated while his condition deteriorated. His declining condition undermined the production in numerous and significant ways. Now, the entire world knows Mr. Sheen’s condition from his alarming outbursts over just the last few weeks.”
The studio also sent out a statement to the press: “After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen’s services on “Two and a Half Men” effective immediately.”
CBS, contacted Monday afternoon, declined to comment.
Not coincidentally, CBS announced Monday it had renewed another of its Monday comedies, “How I Met Your Mother” for two more seasons. That deal, with production studio Twentieth Century Fox TV, had been in the works for some time, but the Sheen situation gave it a sense of urgency, one source commented.
Sheen, who had been the highest paid star working in TV, reportedly making nearly $2 million per episode on the show, had said in recent interviews he intended to honor his contract and return to work next season -- the show’s ninth season -- but if CBS and Warner Bros.wanted him back after that, he would demand $3 million per episode, owing to the distress the studio and network had put him through.
In various recent interviews, Sheen had vowed to take legal action against Warner Bros. and CBS for shutting down “Men” for the rest of this season.
Monday, Sheen, responded to Warner Bros.’s move via the tabloid Web site cum syndicated TV show TMZ:
This is very good news. They continue to be in breach, like so many whales. It is a big day of gladness at the Sober Valley Lodge because now I can take all of the bazillions, never have to look at [expletive] again and I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension.
Warner Bros. said in its letter it was firing Sheen because there is “ample evidence” Sheen had committed “felony offenses involving moral turpitude (including but not limited to furnishing of cocaine to others as part of the self-destructive lifestyle he has described publicly)” which gives the studio “the right to treat such as as a default” on his contract.
On Feb. 24, CBS and Warner Bros. TV had taken the extraordinary step of scrapping production on the country’s most popular comedy series for the rest of the season -- the same day star Sheen went on his most breathtaking radio tear yet.
“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 in a statement at that time.
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 and others.
In its letter terminating Sheen’s contract, Warner Bros. TV said it halted the show for the remainder of the season in February, and suspended Sheen’s employment on the show because it was “the only responsible action open to it - morally and legally - in these painful circumstances. Warner Bros. would not, and should not attempt to continue ‘business as usual’ while Mr. Sheen destroys himself as the world watches.”
The decision to terminate its contract with Sheen was made, Warner Bros. TV said, when the situation “took a dramatic turn for the worse in January and February of this year when Mr. Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition prevented him from performing his essential duties and so undermined the ability of Warner Bros. and [’Men’ exec producer Chuck Lorre] to produce the show.”
The 11-page letter detailed those various benders of Sheen’s over the past several months that did so much to improve traffic to various tabloid Web sites.
The show actually has been shut down since January when Warner Bros. and CBS temporarily - or so they thought at the time - shelved production while Sheen entered a rehab facility.
According to the letter, Warner Bros. was surprised when that facility turned out to be the Charlie Sheen Rehabilitation Facility, in Charlie Sheen’s House, Calif. Or, as Sheen calls it “Sober Valley Lodge.”
According to the letter, in order to convince Sheen to get professional help for his condition. Bruce Rosenblum, the President of Warner Bros. Television Group, and Leslie Moonves, the President and CEO of CBS, had personally visited Sheen in his home on January 28, just after he left the hospital from his latest bender.
“They told him that they were profoundly concerned for his health, safety and well-being; that he could not continue on his present path; and that they were shutting down production temporarily so that he could enter a rehabilitation facility.”
In the letter, Warner Bros claimed Sheen agreed that he would enter a
rehabilitation facility the next day and Warner Bros. had an airplane waiting to take him to a facility, while placing the show on hiatus.
“Notwithstanding his agreement to enter a rehabilitation facility, Mr. Sheen refused to leave his home for treatment. He instead insisted that he would seek treatment there, in what he later described as his own ‘Sober Valley Lodge.’
“It is clear that he has no intention of agreeing to the intensive evaluation and treatment that his condition requires. It is also clear he does not believe he has a problem and that he will continue to conduct himself in a destructive manner. Accordingly, Warner Bros. has chosen to terminate the Agreement in accordance with its terms, effective today,” Warner Bros. said.
This season of “Men” wrapped with eight episodes in its CBS contract unfulfilled.
CBS’s contract with Warner Bros. for the show, which is the country’s most popular comedy series, extends through next season. But was unclear at press time if the series will return next season, or be shuttered permanently.
CBS has been punting in “Men’s” Monday timeslot for several weeks. Fortunately for CBS, “Two and a Half Men” episodes repeat very well in the show’s Monday time slot.
Last Tuesday, CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves told attendees at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco that the decision to halt production on “Two and a Half Men” - the country’s most popular comedy series - is “short-term financially . . . actually a gainer” for the network.
That’s because the reruns have been performing well in the ratings and eight fewer episodes this season means eight episodes for which CBS does not have to pay Warner Bros. Television.