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No easy math in determining financial hit from 'Two and a Half Men' shutting down


While Charlie Sheen figures out who he'll rant to next, the network and the studio behind "Two and a Half Men," the hit sitcom he stars in, are no doubt crunching numbers to determine what financial hit they will take if the show is indeed over.

Warner Bros., which produces the show, has the most to lose if "Two and a Half Men" is over. Currently, CBS pays about $4 million per episode for the show. Warner Bros. uses that money to make the show, pay the cast, etc.

But there is always money left over to keep in its pocket. Given that eight episodes won't be made this season, that translates to $32 million in lost license fees, several million of which would have been pure profit. People close to the show say Warner Bros. would lose about $10 million in profits from the four episodes alone

Contractually, CBS is on the hook for one more season after this one, so if Sheen's character has indeed drank his whiskey and bedded his last broad, then that is an additional $96 million or so in license fees gone -- assuming that 24 episodes would be made next season.

Then there is the rerun money. The cable channel FX pays about $800,000 per episode. That's $3.2 million right there that's gone for the episodes that won't be made this season. If the show is gone for good, then that number jumps to more than $22 million after factoring in the 24 episodes that would have been made next season.

The local stations that carry repeats of "Two and a Half Men" collectively pay more than $1 million per episode and Warner Bros. also sells a portion of the ad time in those reruns. So if the show goes away, that is at least an additional $30 million or so gone.

What is virtually impossible to put a number on is the long-term loss to Warner Bros. Like "Seinfeld," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Cheers," "Two and a Half Men" is going to live in reruns for a very long time. Over the next decade or so the revenue from lost episodes could easily be in the hundreds of millions from reruns both in the U.S. and abroad.

Now, all that rerun money does not go straight to Warner Bros. bottom line. The cast gets residuals, and profit participants also reap the benefits. But it's not chump change either. Warner Bros. has already made tons of money off the show and the loss of additional episodes means less gravy and dessert. 

For CBS, it is easier to figure out a financial hit but harder to determine the potential damage the loss of the show would mean. Advertising Age reported that a commercial on the "Two and a Half Men" goes for about $200,000. If there is a ratings hit from the absence of the program, then ad revenue would drop as well. However, given that CBS is also off the hook this season from paying for those eight episodes that won't be made, in the near term the network is actually saving money.

But if "Two and a Half Men" is toast, CBS has a major hole to fill in its schedule. The program, which airs at 9 p.m. Monday, is the anchor for that night. CBS's next strongest show is "The Big Bang Theory," which was moved from Monday at 9:30 p.m. to Thursday. Now the network may have to abandon its Thursday strategy to fill the void left by Sheen.

In a statement, CBS said the Sheen fiasco will "will have no material impact ... and at the network level, given the economics of a show like this in its eighth season, any ratings declines will be more than offset by the reduced programming costs for the time period.” Warner Bros. has not released an official statement about the financial impact of the show ending its season early.

As for the 200 or so people who work on the show who aren't high-paid writers or actors, they are the ones truly caught in the crossfire between Sheen, CBS and Warner Bros.

Ironically, Sheen's production company is called 9th Step Productions, referring to the step in Alcoholics Anonymous that has to do with making amends to those harmed by one's actions. That could be a long list.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: "Two and a Half Men." Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (31)

We've enjoyed the series, but you've gone over the top. Good luck. I'm only one person but I will not watch anything else you do. Please forward to CBS.
Ex Fan,

Charlie Sheen's actions.
Makes me think of Fatty Arbuckle!

We are big fans of Two and a Half Men at our house...BUT, Charlie is not what makes the show great. We'd like to see the cast continue, perhaps with a new title "Real Men". The characters who are really the funniest and make the show worth watching are Jake, Alan, Berta, Mother Harper, Dr. Herb, Dr. Linda, and Rose, Vivian Harper could move in and be just a despicable as Charlie. Herb could leave Judith and move in with Alan and Jake. He is a hoot! Just call it "Men"!
I find myself laughing even though I dislike Charlie character and Charlie Sheen, the actor. He has held this show hostage long enough...let him go and move on. We'll be watching :)

thanks to an immature idiot 300 people have lost their livlihood.
45 years old and still doing coke and hookers?
sheen sets quite the example for his kids
i didn't care about him until he cost the below the line workers their jobs
sheen doesn't care about anyone but himself
what a douche

Charlie Sheen, the shows producer, and CBS all need reach an understanding and continue the show if for no other reason than the many people that would loose their jobs. People who work in show business need to have very thick skin. The egos involved here are too big. It could take years for Charlie to change. Those working with him should see they are dealing with a medically sick but talented person. There's no excuse for his behavior from a normal point of view, but his biochemistry is clearly unbalanced and he's probably self medicating. His liver is probably under extreme stress and that often causes extreme anger. A total change in diet, supplements, no drugs or alcohol, and plenty of sleep would help tremendously. At least he wouldn't have to give up sex!
CBS should make a parallel reality show with Dr. Phil out of this as well, and also write some of his real life problems into Two and a Half Men. That way, if he totally messes up, the show can go on for at least a while.

I say keep the show going with-out Charlie. His story was getting old anyway. Have him die and Alan getting the house. Maybe have Jake starting to act like Charlie. That would be funny.

"Two and a Half Men" is only an important icon to charlie. It's how he views his own life. It's a crappy show and charlie is a crappy human being. Aside from that the fact that L.A. loves it only goes to show you what L.A. thinks of itself.

I am having a hard time differentiating between the behaviour of Muammar al-Qaddafi and Charlie Sheen.

love the show there arent many around in the old days stars would do worse but the studios looked after their bread and butter
as an actor its not the prodoucers you love to wATCH its the actors
lucille ball jackie gleason rodney dangerfield charlie chaplin peter sellers
red skelton milton berle carrol o connor etc jimmy durante
these actors sometimes saved peoples lives because when there isnt much a laugh is enough
their talent and ability to make us laugh prolong our lives

american media some are hyprocites

nobodies perfect nobody

look a t the above list and ask your self any of you know who is perfect dont exist
its laugh able the media has turned out to be so
who would have guessed

leave the actors alone or you gret up there and do it
not everyone has the gift or talent to act
and make people laugh
god bless tha actor more so now then ever
but if you can make us laugh
wow thats something

like i said when did americans become so bloody

its got to be something wrong americans had a tough skin
its time for america to get back to business and have big business off their back
anybody perfect
go ahead

if not
lets get back to work

Who cares if Warner Bros and CBS lose money? Making money off the mentally deranged, or enjoying profits from really unpleasant people is a bargain with the devil to begin with, and they will reap what they sow.

If Adolph Hitler were around to syndicate a talk show, would his profit or loss column have any bearing on whether or not a network should air his comments?

Most people in america have wised up to the fake illusion that television is, actors who are pretending to be a cop, or a dad, or a wise guy who beds women has nothing to do with their real lives, we all know its about MONEY and GREED and SELLING SOAP.

Charlie seems to be getting all the bad press. Although I do not agree with his actions, I also think that Chuck Lorre carries a big portion of the blame. He should never made the comments at the end of his shows about Charlie Sheen. This is not the first time he has had problems with the stars of his shows. Those problems and his overinflated ego have caused a parting of the ways between Chuck Lorre and other shows he was involved with. He needs to be brought down a peg. However, for the sake of the 300 employees I hope Charlie Sheen can be the bigger man, because given Chuck Lorre's history, I doubt he will be. The fact is that the studios and Chuck Lorre have made a killing on this show. If they want to continue to do so, they need to reach a compromise. Although, I believe that 1.8 million is too much to be paid per episode, I rather Charlie Sheen and the rest of the cast and crew get the money then the Studios or Chuck Lorre raking it all in.

Reports said that Charlie always showed up for work and behaved professionally throughout the series. Maybe dealing with an ego like Chuck Lorre for eight years finally became to much and combined with his alcoholism Charlie finally broke. To lay all the blame on Charlie is unfair and unwarranted.

For Ruler4you...

Yes, all those millions of viewers are from L.A. Not. You're as big a douche as Sheen, spouting your hate and making ridiculous judgments. Clearly something about the show touches people. The same with L.A. Idiot.

Why not re-budget Warner and invest in some new shows?? Maybe (*gasps and sighs*) factual entertainment and intelligent documentaries? Entertainment that people can actually learn something or be wowed by experiences outside of LA? I for one am tired of US sitcoms paying idiots to act stupid in public and reality programming that takes public idiots turning them into US sitcoms...

If you cease production of this show, then Charlie wins. He'll think the show IS him.

If you continue production of this show without Charlie, then many will win. The writers are good enough to write Charlie out temporarily. Tom's suggestion of having Jake start behaving like Charlie while he's gone would be hilarious.

Maybe the show won't make as much money, but at least over 200 people will still have jobs and there will be an incentive for Charlie to finally get his act together if he wants to return.

Carry on the show without Charlie Sheen. After all it's Jon Cryer who has the Emmy, Sheen plays himself... a drunk who lies around the sofa. Any dummy could replace him.

I think CBS got played by Chuck Lorre again. I believe Lorre said that he won't write the episodes if Charlie Sheen wasn't in it. In a writer's contract they are responsible for delivering the episodes regardless ofthe actors activities. I believe that Lorre's team was so involved in the other shows that they didn't have the episodes ready and Chuck was in breach of contract and used Sheen's escapades as an excuse. CBS force Lorre into writing all the outstanding episodes then you have something to play with. Lorre has done this game remember Cybill's show? Grace Under Fire, Rosanne. I'm sure in BigBang Theory around season six we will see the same pattern.

What the hell is everyone so constipated about? Think about it Chuck and Charley each positioning themselves. Chuck has been producing Two and a Half men for how many years now???
They episodes are all about the life and times of Charley …
Think about the subject matter …
1. Sex sex and more sex.
2. Engagements.
3. Stocker girl friend.
4. Whores.
5. Girl Friends.
6. Male chauvinist.
7. Major Drunken stupors.
8. Psychological profiles.
9. Lots of sarcasms.
10. Major mother conflict … how real is that?
11. Several episodes of psychoanalysis sessions with none other than comedian from Glee …. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch).
12. An amazing sarcastic, take no prisoners house keeper.
13. Affairs.
14. Sex, sex, and more sex. Sorry to repeat myself.
15. Charley’s unabashed position with respect to his behavior.
Truth be told the show is a study of all the so called negative behaviors of Charley Sheen and is a huge success. Why … Because we all see something of ourselves or our families. This is an amazing sitcom.
In terms of enabling, money is not the enabler as some idiot spinning heads have said no … everyone who is involved with this sitcom is Charley’s enabler. Everyone in this sitcom is a co-dependent. They are co-dependents as are we the viewers. All of us play off of Sheen’s character … who happens to be none other than CHARLEY SHEEN.
Yes Chuck you are definitely a Co-Dependent.
That is why Charley Sheen is so adamant about the statements from all those connected with this sitcom.
That is why he is so adamant about the comments from the so called critics.

What if Charlie is correct in his feelings about Lorre and the way Chuck has worked behind the scenes to cause harm? Just because a drunken, drug addicted, porn star crazed actor says it, doesn't mean its NOT true. Many of Sheen's comments were totally inappropriate, but perhaps the built up anger and resentment he feels are not coming completely from a drug warped perspective. There is more to this story than meets the eye.

Charlie's ready to work and they're trying to control him. They caused this, and all the poor schlubs that work on the show will just go work on the next dumb show...it's Hollyweird, and that's how it goes. Get a grip people.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Look it up. It is amazing to me that no one has raised the possibility of mental illness. The drugs, power and money have played a huge part in driving Sheen over the edge. Of course, he helped a lot, but he's also been enabled. He needs serious treatment, but he won't get it because those so afflicted are adamant about nothing being wrong. It's always everyone else who's "off." Charlie has had a psychotic break and left to his own devices, he could do severe harm to himself and/or others...his behavior past and present shows this.

They have all made soooooo much money and career names by glamorizing Sheen's decadent, to say the least, lifestyle. check out balleehoo blog about this whole thing..... http://balleehoo.wordpress.com ... this guy has it right.
shame on cbs and time warner, all the way to the top.

Carlos, if it weren't for your daddy, you wouldn't be where you are at today. And then you wouldn't have any money, and then no one would look twice at ya. Uh huh, you are something special, not at all like the rest of us.

C C C Rash

Jeez people, it's only a TV show and Charlie Sheen is just another immature, narcissistic, boozing, drugged, Hollywood jackass. Get a life.

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