Sheen, Warner close to settling
Charlie Sheen and Warner Bros. are finalizing a multimillion-dollar settlement that would end one of the ugliest public battles ever between a major star and a Hollywood studio.
Sheen, who had been feuding with Warner Bros. after being fired from his starring role on the CBS hit sitcom “Two and a Half Men” in March, will receive about $25 million to settle the dispute, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because the negotiations are confidential.
The figure was derived primarily from Sheen’s participation in profits from the show. His last deal with Warner Bros. was due to expire in May 2012.
A spokesman for Warner Bros. denied there is a settlement and declined to comment further. A spokesman for Sheen referred calls to the actor’s lawyer, who was unavailable for comment.
The expected agreement, which is still being ironed out, would resolve one of the most closely watched spats in television history. It started in January when Warner Bros. shut down production on “Two and a Half Men” so that Sheen, who has had a history of substance abuse issues, could seek treatment. It was not the first time the studio halted production on the show because of worries about Sheen’s well-being.
A few weeks later, Sheen declared himself ready to return to work. When Warner Bros. disagreed, Sheen launched an unusual public relations offensive. Sheen appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today,” on which he criticized Warner Bros. and “Two and a Half Men” co-creator Chuck Lorre and boasted about his drug use, womanizing and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
Warner Bros. then decided to cancel the rest of the show’s season and, soon after another Sheen attack on Lorre and Warner Bros. on a radio show, fired the actor. In a letter to Sheen’s attorney, Warner Bros. said he was fired because the actor was “engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill” and was unable to perform at an acceptable level.
Sheen sued Warner Bros. for $100 million for wrongful termination, contending he was ready to return to work. A California Superior Court judge ruled that any dispute about the terms of Sheen’s contract with Warner Bros. had to go to arbitration.
After he was fired, Sheen went on a national tour he dubbed the “Torpedo of Truth.” He used the tour to boast of his lifestyle and occasionally mock his old job. During the first show of the tour in Detroit, he burned one of the shirts he had worn on “Two and a Half Men.”
When he was fired from the show, Sheen was the highest-paid actor in television, making $1.2 million per episode. Along with the eight episodes he did not make last season, he was under contract for 24 episodes for this season, meaning that he was set to make $38.4 million plus his cut of rerun money that the show generates.
Sheen has spent the last few months trying to repair the damage to his reputation. He struck a deal with production company Debmar-Mercury, owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., to star in a new television show based on the 2003 Adam Sandler comedy “Anger Management.” The show is staffing up, but has not yet found a home on a broadcast network or cable channel.
Over the last few days, while promoting a roast of himself scheduled to air Monday night on the cable channel Comedy Central, Sheen made several television appearances, seeming contrite and acknowledging he was out of control when he was let go by Warner Bros.
He told Jay Leno, host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” that he would have fired himself. On Sunday night, he appeared on Fox’s telecast of the Emmys, wishing the cast and crew of “Two and a Half Men” good luck: “From the bottom of my heart I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season.”
The new season of “Two and a Half Men,” with actor Ashton Kutcher joining the show in a starring role, is set to premiere Monday night and is expected to generate strong ratings as viewers check out how the program will carry on without Sheen.