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'Two and a Half Men' to Resume Production Soon, But Shouldn't CBS Cancel Charlie Sheen's Show?

by Maureen Ryan, posted Feb 17th 2011 12:15PM
Various outlets are reporting that 'Two and a Half Men' is resuming production Feb. 28, and that the comedy will produce four more episodes before wrapping its eighth season.

What's great about this news is that Charlie Sheen's recovery really seems to be on track. I mean, we're all expecting him to be clean and sober for the rest of his life, right?

Sigh. Sorry for the sarcasm, but it's hard not to feel sad about what's going on with the very troubled actor. If his life continues on the track it's on now, he will, quite simply, die too young. At the very least, more hospitalizations and health problems will be in his future.

If Sheen dies, the finger-pointing will begin in earnest. The question is, can anyone prevent the disaster we can all see coming? Should anyone try?

Of course it's not too late for Sheen to get his life back on track. It's never too late for an attempt at real recovery to begin. But Sheen's "rehab" has seemed like a joke, at least to an outside observer. He's been calling in to sports talk shows, texting people in the media and generally making light of the whole situation. He apparently doesn't understand why the network and studio behind 'Men' put the show on hiatus.

Everything in his life is fine, as far as he's concerned. This from the man who talked about showing up for work so impaired from the night before that he'd look for something to lean on during run-throughs.

Throughout the whole Sheen crisis, executives and people associated with the show have talked about how the actor shows up ready to work and does a fine job. I don't think that's a good excuse for keeping 'Men' in production season after season. At this point, it feels ghoulish, as if we, the viewers, are enabling Sheen to carry on as if nothing is wrong.

Sure, Sheen's persona on the show isn't much of a stretch from who he appears to be in real life, but there comes a point when seeing Charlie Harper with a drink in his hand seems positively tragic. Given that even 'Men' creator Chuck Lorre has made his fears about Sheen known (here and apparently here), I think we're at that point.

So what are the options facing the people who make 'Men'? Here they are, as I see them:

Keep the Show Going Indefinitely With Its Present Cast
'Men' makes an absolute fortune for CBS and Warner Bros. TV, which makes the show, so this wouldn't be a hard choice to make. But this is an increasingly untenable option, in my view. Every season -- heck, every month -- are we going to see headlines about Sheen's hospitalizations and hooker problems? At what point does it start to tarnish CBS to have one of its biggest stars in such visible trouble? CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler recently told the press that the network is very concerned about Sheen, but if the network begins production on a ninth season like nothing is wrong, it could well start to seem like an enabler interested in seeing its key moneymaker continue to produce.

Keep the Show Going, But Charlie Harper Goes on an Extended Vacation
I can't see a reason not to try another actor in a leading role on the show. Maybe 'Men' would fall out of the top 10, but my guess is that the comedy would still do very well and continue to be a cash cow for all parties. And casting another actor in the show this might actually convince Sheen that the executives around him are serious about wanting him to clean up his life for real. But at best, this seems like a half-measure, something that would just keep the ship afloat until the next crisis.

Cancel the Show
This won't happen, but quite honestly, this would probably be the best course of action. It's just too horrible to contemplate the idea of Sheen dying in the midst of making a sitcom. Sitcoms are not as important as human lives. Sheen is now in a situation where he can do whatever he wants and get away with it. That appears to only be making things worse for the actor. If there's a chance that shutting down the show could help Sheen, the executives in charge should take that step. And if it doesn't help Sheen, they'd know they did their utmost to help him clean up.

I realize there are factors that complicate that third option. If Sheen were out of work, no doubt he'd make a deal to star in another sitcom for another network that would be willing to make a buck off the star, no matter what condition he was in. But that's no reason for CBS to stay in the Sheen business.

The bottom line is this: If the actor dies or ODs while he's starring in 'Men,' the question will forever linger: What could the network and studio have done to prevent this? Did they do all they could to stop it from happening? Those who make and air the show have to take a hard look at whether they're OK with those questions being asked if the unthinkable happens.

And finally, you're probably thinking, "But what about the show's crew? Wouldn't canceling the show put them out of work?" That would be truly unfortunate, no doubt. But 'Men' has been running for eight years, and the show's crew has to know about Sheen's habits and predilections. Maybe it's just me, but if I had a job on that show, I would have tried to find work on another show with stars who are not likely to go on cocaine benders at the drop of a hat. It's not hard to imagine that staff members have been updating and sending out their resumes for some time now.

I don't mean to sound hard-hearted -- truly, I don't want to see anyone out of work in these hard times, and I know it's not easy to find a good gig in any industry. Making that third choice would be toughest on the show's staff. But if the network were to announce it was ending the show after season 8, at least the employees would have time to look for other jobs before the paychecks end.

This is very complicated situation, there's no doubt about that. Still, anyone who know an addict knows that, at some point, you have to cut them off if they're not willing to change. It hurts, it's painful, it's scary. But let's not pretend that the executives in charge don't have a choice here. They do. They could choose to stop making 'Two and a Half Men' after season 8 wraps.

They'd lose a lot of money. But they might sleep better at night.


Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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rivyrob

The best replacement for Charlie Sheen is Balthazar Getty--- he plays Tommy Walker on Brothers and Sisters. He is the perfect one to replace Charlie--- he even looks like him a bit and with a little make-up who knows?

May 16 2011 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rlongpre

Without Charlie it will be a big FLOP! R. Longpre

May 16 2011 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
doliktd

" two and half men " , is one of the funniest shows i have ever seen, common charlie, grow up, your not a teenager anymore , talk to the producers and " cut a deal " and continue to make millions of your fans around the world enjoy the show, and as the say in usa , " nothing is impossible " !

May 15 2011 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rustyc22

Never in a million years, would that work, i cant see him getting the air time from people who love the show,I feel sorry for John Cryer and Angus for not getting a better actor for the show.Just a pity Rob Lowe couldn't have done it he would have made it work a lot better sorry but Aston Kutcher just doesn't cut it for that show

May 15 2011 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Herman Fulford46

It will not work. Charlie has a certain " tweet" that make the show. Lorre will be sorry. He will lose a lot of money. And lets be frank, no one likes to lose money, no matter who filthy rich they are!!@@

May 13 2011 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ruby P. Horton

The thing is - the cast - not just Sheen makes the show. With a little writing the show could go on just fine - maybe even better. A whole show could be about Jake - he is becomming a young man and a funny one. Berta , the mom, the brother could carry the show. It is one of the best cast put together since the Golden Girls. Don't put someone in to replace Charlie - just have him get married and move away. Please keep the show on - all my friends want to see Jake grow up.

February 28 2011 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tedd27

Take a look at many other entertainers..people love bad boys. CS seems to be the real thing. The show is down and real. He represents just the kind of guy most men DO NOT want to be..but it is fun to watch. Adults who can't deal with this should consult their iphones and check the weather a dozen times a day or call their office or text that "friend" their wives don't know about. Give me a break and grow up. How did the painters of the 19th century live? By the Rules? oh, come on now...this man is an artist like it or not.

February 25 2011 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lisasutphin

This show is the funniest show I have ever watched!!! EVERY person involved in creating Two And A Half Men is simply genius, behind the camera AND in front!!!
Please DON'T stop production!!!! The cast you have now is perfect! No replacements please!!

February 25 2011 at 9:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
albannapoleon

What does his person life have to do with the show? Nothing. This writer is just some woman that is out after him so she can sell her blog, headlines, articles, etc. He will NOT die young because he is already OLD. In case you haven't seen him the past three seasons, he looks old even with the make-up. Let him go on his binges and partying if that's his life choice as long as it's not affecting me or my family, I could care less what he does. People get a life. Worry about yourself and not some guy on TV.

February 25 2011 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BULLFROG62

cancel the the show thats just stupid its the funniest thing on tv!

February 25 2011 at 1:38 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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