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Is 'Two and a Half Men' Cancelled & More Burning Questions

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 25th 2011 1:15PM
Charlie Sheen in 'Two and a Half Men'Charlie Sheen's rant heard 'round the Internet already caused the production on 'Two and a Half Men' to shut down, but that's just the beginning of the aftermath. His meltdown leads to a ton of other questions, not the least of which is: Does this mean 'Two and a Half Men' will be cancelled?

We all knew that this was going to happen, but we didn't know it was going to happen in such an entertaining way.

As my fellow Squadder Mo Ryan reported yesterday, CBS pulled the plug on the rest of the mega-hit sitcom's season based on "the totality of Charlie Sheen's statements, conduct and condition," which was likely code for "He's gone off the deep end and we can't deal with it anymore."

Given his latest statements to TMZ and the Alex Jones radio show, many of which were directly aimed at "Chaim Levine," a not-so-subtle and vaguely anti-Semitic reference to producer Chuck Lorre's given name, CBS and Warner Brothers really had no choice.

So, what happens next? We address some of the questions at the top of our minds:

Is this the end for 'Two and a Half Men?'

Unless Sheen completely breaks down -- or worse -- between now and 'Men's' eighth-season production start date in July, it doesn't seem like either CBS or Warner Bros. is willing to shut production down completely, and it all comes down to the almighty dollar.

Sheen is contracted through a ninth season; any buy-out they may try to negotiate with him would seem like a waste of money, because it would be almost as much as what they'd pay him to do the show. And, within Sheen's latest rants, he's always expressed a willingness to work, as he mentioned in his first interview with Dan Patrick last week. "They said, 'You get ready, we'll get ready," and I got ready, went back and nobody's there." He told a 'Good Morning America' reporter this morning that he's planning on going back to work on Monday, when it was supposed to come back from its hiatus, whether the show's in production or not.

Besides, the show makes both the network and WB buckets of money; according to Lacey Rose at Forbes, 'Men' was second only to 'American Idol' in generating advertising revenue in 2010. And Warners is making a mint on the show in syndication and other avenues; even with the show's increased cost in its later seasons, the syndication package gives them incentive to keep the show going.

Could CBS and Warner Bros. replace Sheen with another star?

Charlie Sheen, Heather Locklear and Barry Bostwick of 'Spin City'It's possible, given how much money the show makes for CBS and Warners. A new star wouldn't be that much more expensive than the $1.2 million per episode that Sheen was making.

And for those who say that no one can replace Sheen on the show, then you're not remembering recent Hollywood history. Sheen himself replaced the very popular Michael J. Fox on 'Spin City' a decade or so ago, when Fox had to bow out due to Parkinson's disease. No one thought the show would do well because it was centered around Fox, but the show ended up running two more seasons because the writers managed to figure out how to keep the show going without its star.

The same thing is happening this season as Steve Carell makes his way out of 'The Office.' It may not be the ideal way to produce a show, but where there's a will -- and lots of dollar signs involved -- there's a way.

Will the crew get paid for the unproduced episodes?

Even though the Hollywood Reporter reported that Sheen and the rest of the cast won't be paid for the four episodes that ended up being cancelled -- and that was cut down from the original eight left to tape when Sheen initially went off on his most recent bender -- all of those people are doing just fine. It's the crew that people should worry about.

These are people who make middle-class wages, and they depend on the shows they're working on to be in production for them to get paid. Remember when Conan abruptly quit 'The Tonight Show' last year? When he exited, he not only negotiated pay for a lot of his crew, but he paid those who weren't covered by the agreement out of his own pocket.

Sheen's rants indicate that he blames Lorre for shutting down the show -- "That piece of s--t took money out of my pocket, my family's pocket, and, most importantly, my second family -- my crew's pocket," he wrote to TMZ -- so there doesn't seem to be any indication that Sheen is willing to foot the bill for the crew, though there's still a possibility he could do that.

Aside from Sheen being found dead in a Vegas hotel room, the biggest threat to 'Men' continuing is actually the status of the crew. If they don't get paid for a third of the season, as it stands now, they'll have to find work elsewhere. If enough of them move on to other projects, would CBS, Lorre and WB be willing to risk their money-making franchise on a largely new crew?

Is Sheen going to HBO?

Sheen texted Radar Online that he's going to be negotiating a contract with HBO to do a show called 'Sheen's Corner' for what Sheen claims is $5 million per episode.

"It will be epic, all types of guests and we will focus on the truth and the absurd!" he told the Radar reporter in what sounds like more of a show Sheen's conceived in his head rather than an actual show.

HBO has denied that it's in talks with Sheen, but that might mean that they just can't talk because he's still under contract for 'Men.' However, this does seem like there's more than an even chance that 'Sheen's Corner' is more of a hallucinatory fantasy on Sheen's part than an actual show. It could also be Sheen making a sardonic and cryptic joke. But you never know in Hollywood.

Chuck LorreWhat really went on behind the scenes on 'Men?'

Lorre has had to deal with difficult stars before, from Roseanne Barr to Cybill Shepherd to Brett Butler (in fact, he dealt with them all right in a row, an ordeal he's documented and spoken about many times), and Sheen seems like he's part of that group.

But for most of 'Men's' run, it seemed like the agita Sheen was giving Lorre was due more to his off-the-set behavior and not the on-the-set diva behavior that Lorre experienced with the other three stars. Every report you heard from Lorre and CBS was that Sheen was on-time, professional, did his job and never showed up to work drunk or hung over.

But Sheen's latest rants, where he calls Lorre a "contaminated little maggot," among other insults, makes you wonder what was really going on behind the scenes. This anger for Lorre doesn't seem to come simply from the refusal to restart production. This sounds like some repressed anger and resentment bubbling over, Mel Gibson-style.

This statement in particular, from his call to Alex Jones' radio show, indicates how Sheen has felt about who's the real creative force behind the show: "Last I checked, Chaim, I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold. And the gratitude I get is this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write."

Is this the end of Lorre's famous vanity cards?

Lorre's censored vanity cardAnyone who's followed Lorre's shows, starting with 'Dharma & Greg,' knows about Lorre's vanity card, shown at the end of every episode of every show he produces. It was usually different almost every time out; some of them would have Lorre's musings on life, some would have a joke, and others would have his ruminations on being part of the television-industrial complex.

But he's also used these vanity cards to take shots at Sheen, including the recent one where he stated how healthy he lives and concluded "If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really pissed."

Monday night, however, he decided that it was time to stop writing these cards for the time being. "These days it seems like every vanity card is getting scrutinized and criticized by network executives, corporate legal departments and publicity departments, TV journalists and tabloid bloggers," he wrote, saying that for now he'll just post pictures of innocuous parts of his body, like an elbow or his hand.

Lorre's vanity cards were one of the most interesting parts of his shows, and have gained a following of their own, mainly because of the insights they gave into the entertainment business and the psyche of a successful TV producer. Let's hope that Sheen hasn't dissuaded Lorre from abandoning them completely.

Tell us: What questions do you have about the Charlie Sheen mess?


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46 Comments

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rbr20

The new Actor to replace Charlie is right under their noses........ Jud Nelson! He'll fit right in. Good looks, dark sense of humor and he has been on the show . Check him out in the earlier shows

May 30 2011 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michelle Fowler

charlie sheen is what makes the show and without him you don't have **** .They should bring Charlie back and stop being so petty .So what if he said some offensive things look how many viewers he has and how much money he makes for the show.I guarentee they will lose more viewers without him than with him

May 02 2011 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
matt

They should replace Charlie Sheen with Christian Slater. He has the same type of vibe and character as Charlie Sheen.

April 13 2011 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
matt

They should replace Charlie Sheen with Christian Slater. He has the same vibe and charecter as charlie sheen.

April 13 2011 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ash

I would rather them just cancel two and a half men than trying to replace him. If he gets replaced, i will never watch two and a half men again.

March 19 2011 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff C

any body can play a drunken hoar,he was nothing more than a sit-up man for the truely funny people on the show, so kill him of relpace him it does not matter, just bring back the show with out charlie sheen

March 13 2011 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beverly

Allof you people should realize its Charlie Harper that everyone loves no one really gives a rats ass about Charlie Sheen.

March 01 2011 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John P. Ilvento

If everybody boycotted 2 1/2 Men, Charlie Sheen would get the message quickly that his behavior has consequences.
It is a sad commentary that through two abbusive marriages, and years of alcohol and drug abuse that people coddle this man and accept this as normal/good behavior.

February 28 2011 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nh4vee

Get it together Charlie. Your blowing a good thing. It is one of the best shows on TV. Don't put all your fellow workers on the street. GET IT TOGETHER! Keep your fans laughing!!

February 27 2011 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Claire

I don't like that show what's it always about him having sex its crap and why people watch it is beyond me?

February 27 2011 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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