Why Charlie Sheen Must Return to 'Two and a Half Men'
by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 7th 2010 1:03PM
My colleague Danny seems to think that Warner Brothers and CBS should show Charlie Sheen the door and let him leave the series, even though the network and production company are committed to two more years of 'Two and a Half Men.' And my other fellow TV Squadder Jason has kiddingly suggested seven characters who could fill Sheen's shoes. Well, to paraphrase the words of Dan Aykroyd on 'Saturday Night Live,' they are both ignorant sluts!
Charlie Sheen must return to 'Two and a Half Men' for a variety of reasons, but the most important is simply this: MONEY. It's not about how much Sheen is looking to make. It's about how much Warner Brothers and CBS stand to lose if they let 'Two and a Half Men' go down the drain in its last two years.
The production company and the network are reaping huge rewards for 'Two and a Half Men,' and have for years. The sitcom anchors the Monday night sitcom line up. Look at the ratings; it's been the top dog, setting the pace for the others. Only a few times this season has 'The Big Bang Theory,' which follows 'Men,' surpassed it in the key 18-49 demographic.
Together, 'Two and a Half Men' and 'The Big Bang Theory' are a potent one-two punch from 9-10PM. If you wonder why '24' has struggled this season, in addition to growing tired, it was also up against CBS's Monday sitcom duo, as well as ABC's 'Dancing With The Stars.'
There's a lot to be said about the old adage that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. When something works that well in television, you don't muck it up. (Unless your Jeff Zucker and NBC, then you sabotage yourself at every turn!) Chuck Lorre's dynamic duo of 'Men' and 'Bang' must remain intact.
That means you pay Charlie Sheen and get him back to work next season. It will be a fresh start for him. All the problems will be behind him and the saga of Alan and Charlie Harper can continue. The idea that Charlie can be replaced from the comedy equation is naive. Anybody who regularly watches and has kept up with the show knows that like 'The Odd Couple' or even a sitcom like 'Mad About You,' the key to the success is the chemistry of the leads.
They are brothers. You can't eliminate Alan from Charlie's life, or vice versa, and keep the same dynamic. You couldn't break up the 'Friends' either, which is why in the end, those six stars were earning $1 million per episode. It made economic sense to keep them together and cough up the $6 million in star salaries because the production company -- Warners again -- and the network, would get it back in revenue.
Danny's complaint that stars pull this all the time is a salient one. But, ultimately, the big breadwinners are the creators, producers and network. We hear about what the star's demanding, but rarely do we know how much less that is than the people behind the scenes. Assuming that Charlie Sheen is wrong to negotiate for the max he can get is foolish. This might be his last great TV program and the last shot at a big payday. You got to get it while the getting is good.
So, here's what's going to happen. They are already in heavy negotiations and some reports have Charlie asking for $2 million per episode with WB/CBS offering $1.6. Some put the numbers lower, but no matter what the figures being bandied about, the bottom line is Charlie Sheen will be back and he'll have a significant raise. Forget about replacements -- real or fantastic -- the Harper beach house will now and forever be Charlie's sandbox. And a very plush one at that.