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Warner Bros. retains legal eagles to deal with Charlie Sheen

March 4, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Warner Bros. is firing back at Charlie Sheen.

The studio, which produces Sheen's hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men," has retained powerful law firm Munger Tolles & Olson to help with its likely legal battle against the actor, a person familiar with the matter said, confirming a report in the Hollywood Reporter.

Sheen The move is in response to Sheen and his lawyer, Martin Singer of Lavely & Singer, telling Warner Bros. that a suit could be coming if the studio doesn't pay Sheen for the eight episodes of the show that the studio said are not going to be made this season.

Munger Tolles & Olson has worked with Warner Bros. before and is familiar with the finances of the show. The firm handled a legal beef the studio got into with CBS a few years ago.

The Sheen saga has simmered non-stop since late last month when CBS and Warner Bros. announced they were pulling the plug on "Two and a Half Men," which besides Sheen also stars Jon Cryer. CBS and Warner Bros. made that move after Sheen criticized show co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre during a radio interview.

"Two and a Half Men" had already been put on hiatus by the network and studio because of concern for Sheen's health and lifestyle, the two companies said. Sheen has not been shy about over indulging in spirits and sex and has had numerous run-ins with the law. The actor then embarked on a stay-at-home rehab and thanked both CBS and Warner Bros. for their support.

But a few weeks later a restless Sheen popped up on radio saying he was ready to return to work. He was days away from returning when his rants rubbed CBS and Warner Bros. the wrong way and they pulled the plug on the rest of the season, and perhaps the show.

Sheen then took his radio act to television and appeared on CNN, ABC and NBC all in within a few days of each other. He blasted CBS and Warner Bros. as well as Lorre and declared himself ready to return to work. Sheen has said he blasted Lorre as retaliation for all the shots the executive producer has taken at Sheen in his "vanity cards," which are little notes that end each episode of a Lorre-produced show.

Neither CBS nor Warner Bros. have said what their long-term plans are for "Two and a Half Men." After this season, CBS and Warner Bros. have a deal for one more year, but neither party has said whether they will try to work with Sheen again or try to move ahead and keep the show going without him.

In the meantime, Sheen is providing plenty of fodder for late night hosts. NBC's Jimmy Fallon did a biting satire of a Sheen cologne called "Winning" and dubbed some of Sheen's funnier lines into a Charlie Brown cartoon.

Even "Two and a Half Men" co-star Cryer got into the act this week, taping a bit for Ellen DeGeneres' talk show in which he takes a job as her receptionist.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Charlie Sheen. Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP.