Warner Bros. airs its dirty laundry on Charlie Sheen
In its letter dismissing Charlie Sheen from the CBS show "Two and a Half Men," lawyers for Warner Bros. dumped out the company's basket of dirty laundry on the actor.
Sheen "has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill," the letter from the firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP to attorney Marty Singer said. Sheen's condition "undermined the production in numerous and significant ways" and ultimately left Warner Bros., the producers of the hit sitcom, no choice but to pull the plug on the show and subsequently on himself.
Sheen's camp leaked the letter to Singer to the gossip site TMZ, and its contents were subsequently confirmed by people familiar with the matter. Sheen told the site that his firing was good news.
The letter firing Sheen is the latest back-and-forth between the actor and Warner Bros., CBS and Chuck Lorre, the co-creator and executive producer of "Two and a Half Men." Production on the show was suspended for four episodes in January so Sheen could go to a rehabilitation facility after a series of incidents that included hospital trips and run-ins with the law. Sheen opted to be treated at home and soon declared himself ready to return to work.
Warner Bros., CBS and Lorre weren't buying Sheen's miracle cure and after the actor went on a media tour trashing all three, production for the entire season was suspended.
Sheen and his legal team have argued that Warner Bros. is in breach of his contract for ending production of this season, but the lawyers for Warner Bros. counter that it is the actor who has overstepped his bounds, not the studio.
Sheen's "self-destructive conduct resulted in his hospitalization, his inability to work at all for a period and the rapid erosion of the cooperative and creative process necessary to produce the show," the studio's lawyers said. Sheen is described as missing rehersals and not being prepared for filming. The letter goes on to say that Sheen's admitted drug use and "furnishing of cocaine" to others puts him in violation of his contract. "There is ample evidence supporting Warner Bros. reasonable good faith opinion that Mr. Sheen has committed felony offenses involving moral turpitude ... that have interfered with his ability to fully and completely render all material services required" under his contract.
Interestingly, the letter acknowledges that Warner Bros., CBS and Lorre were previously willing to overlook Sheen's various issues with the law and substance abuse to keep the show going.
"While it was not anywhere close to an ideal working situation, Warner Bros. and CBS as well as Mr. Lorre continued to make accommodations for the off-camera (yet very public) aspects of Mr. Sheen's life," the letter said, adding "at each step, Warner Bros. CBS and Mr. Lorre expressed their wholehearted support for Mr. Sheen and concern for his health and well-being."
That may give fuel to critics who say that Sheen's bosses were willing to look the other way when he got into legal scrapes and was accused of violence toward women including his wives, but got tough when he started trashing them.
Sheen's lawyer Marty Singer said Warner Bros. claims are without merit and that he expects to file a suit against the studio later this week.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Charlie Sheen. Credit: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters.
For the record: This post was updated to include comment from Sheen's lawyer Martin Singer.