Charlie Sheen and Warner Bros. near settlement
Sheen, who had been in a fight with Warner Bros. over the studio's firing him from his starring role on the CBS hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" last March, will get about $25 million to settle out of his contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The figure represents Sheen's participation in profits from the show.
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 couldn't be reached immediately.
The expected agreement, which is still being ironed out, would bring to an end one of the ugliest fights ever between a star and a studio. It started in January when Warner Bros. shut down production on "Two and a Half Men" so Sheen, who has had a history of substance abuse issues, could seek treatment. It was not the first time the studio had to stop production on the show because of worries about Sheen's well-being.
A few weeks later, Sheen declared himself ready to return to work and when Warner Bros. didn't agree, he went on a public-relations offensive. Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Today," he blasted 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. decided after those appearances to pull the plug on the rest of the season of the show. After another attack by Sheen, the studio fired the actor because he was "engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct" and unable to perform at an acceptable level.
Sheen sued Warner Bros. for $100 million for wrongful termination. A California Superior Court judge ruled that any dispute about the terms of Sheen's contract had to go to arbitration.
After he was fired, Sheen went on a national tour he dubbed the "Torpedo of Truth." Sheen used the show 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 "Two and a Half Men," Sheen was the highest-paid actor in television, making $1.2 million per-episode. Besides 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 participation in rerun money the show generates.
Sheen has spent the last few months trying to repair the damage to his reputation and land new work. He struck a deal with the production company Debmar-Mercury to star in a new television show based on the movie "Anger Management." The show is currently staffing up, but has not found a home on a broadcast or cable channel yet.
Over the past few days while promoting a roast of himself scheduled to air on Monday night on the cable channel Comedy Central, Sheen made a few television appearances seeming contrite and acknowledging he was out of control when he was let go by Warner Bros. He even told Jay Leno, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" that he would have fired himself too. On Sunday night, he appeared on Fox's telecast of the Emmy Awards 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. It is expected to generate big ratings as viewers check out to see how the program will carry on without Sheen.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Charlie Sheen at Sunday night's Emmy Awards. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times