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Warner Bros. fires Charlie Sheen

By InCinemas  /  08 Mar 2011 (Tuesday)

Charlie Sheen has been fired from 'Two and a Half Men.'

TV's top-rated comedy might be looking for a new man: CBS' Two and a Half Men fired star Charlie Sheen Monday.

"After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen's services on Two and a Half Men effective immediately," the studio said in a brief statement. A letter sent to Sheen's lawyer, Martin Singer, cites a "felony offense involving moral turpitude" and details the actor's "dangerously self-destructive conduct," including cocaine use -- though Sheen's contract was renewed last year even after evidence of such behavior surfaced.

Studio spokesman Paul McGuire added that a decision on the show's future would be made by mid-May, when CBS announces its fall schedule.

But the network and studio have big incentives to continue the series.
Warner Bros. already has sold the ninth season into syndication, and contracts with local stations and FX do not require Sheen's appearance in the series, an executive familiar with the deal says.

CBS needs an anchor for its top-rated Monday comedy block and would still make money even with half of Men's current audience of nearly 15 million viewers: Its $4 million-per-episode price, which also covers Sheen's salary, could be renegotiated sharply downward.

CBS chief Leslie Moonves approached John Stamos about joining Two and a Half Men late last month in a conversation the network later called "lighthearted."

Analyst Brad Adgate of the ad firm Horizon Media says Men would not succeed without Sheen: "He's irreplaceable" and "far too dominant a character; the show really revolves around him."

But David Scardino of RPA, a Los Angeles ad firm and a former network executive, is open to a switch: "It's a comedy, so if you could make it funny, I don't see why it wouldn't work."

Sheen himself extended the life of ABC's 1990s sitcom Spin City by two seasons, essentially replacing Michael J. Fox, who quit because of Parkinson's disease. The role led soon after to Two and a Half Men, which echoed Sheen's real-life partying persona.

Two and a Half Men abruptly ended its eighth season Feb. 14 after production was shut down when Sheen entered what turned out to be at-home rehab. A plan to resume taping last week was dropped after Sheen's press assault, a scorched-earth move that made reconciliation difficult.

But the abrupt decision will surely trigger a lawsuit. Attorney Singer has already threatened to sue for the eight episodes due this season, at an estimated $2 million apiece, and Sheen echoed that threat.

He told TMZ Monday that the firing was "very good news," and he promised to "take all of their bazillions."
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