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The Complete Guide to the Charlie Sheen and 'Two and a Half Men' Saga

by Gary Susman, posted Mar 8th 2011 5:00PM
Charlie Sheen in 'Two and a Half Men'Now that Charlie Sheen has been fired from CBS' hit sitcom 'Two and a Half Men,' about the only thing that's certain is that the actor won't have to put on a vertical-striped shirt ever again (or, as he puts it, "for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension"). But so much else remains up in the air.

Can TV's most popular comedy continue without TV's highest-paid star? Will John Stamos or Rob Lowe (or another player to be named later) replace him? What sort of financial consequences is CBS facing if the lucrative, eight-season hit grinds to a halt? On the other hand, would it still be profitable to keep an aging, Sheen-free show going for a ninth year?

Below, we'll try to answer these and other burning questions about what's next for a network suddenly drained of tiger blood.

Is 'Two and a Half Men' canceled?
Not yet. The Hollywood Reporter says Warner Bros. Television, which produces the show, hasn't yet decided on its future. CBS chief Les Moonves said last week that he hopes the show will continue, though he also expressed relief at not having to pay for the eight scheduled episodes this year that were not made. PopEater quotes unnamed insiders as saying that there's too much money at stake for CBS to abandon the show, and that the writers will most likely introduce a new lead character.

How can the show continue without Sheen?
Well, there are three options: 1. Simply recast the role of Charlie Harper (à la Darrin in 'Bewitched' or Becky in 'Roseanne'); 2. Write a new lead character onto the show; or 3. Just write Charlie Harper out of the show without replacing him ('One and a Half Men,' anyone?).

Of these options, No. 2 seems the likeliest. There aren't many precedents for successfully replacing a sitcom star with another actor playing a different character, but one of the few shows that did manage such a transition was 'Spin City,' when Michael J. Fox left for health reasons and was replaced with a new lead character played by ... Charlie Sheen! Another precedent, going further back: 'Three's Company,' which fired its chief draw, Suzanne Somers, after a salary dispute, replaced her with a series of less memorable blonde starlets, and kept going for several more seasons.

Over at NBC, they're trying something along those lines with 'The Office,' which will continue next season with a new boss at Dunder-Mifflin after Steve Carell leaves (albeit, on his own scandal-free terms). The networks seem to think it can be worthwhile to keep even an aging comedy going with a new leading man, and that no actor is irreplaceable.

Who might take Sheen's place?
John Stamos' name has been floated, and it's known that he's spoken with Moonves about the prospect. Several days ago, Stamos denied that he'd be replacing Sheen, but that was before Sheen's firing. Now that he won't be seen as the Leno who elbowed aside Sheen's Conan, Stamos may reconsider. TMZ also reported that series creator Chuck Lorre has held meetings about Rob Lowe name as a replacement, though their article acknowledges that Lowe's involvement with 'Parks and Recreation' and his personal relationship with the Sheen family might preclude that possibility.

Is it really worth it to keep the show going for a ninth season without Sheen?
Short answer: Yes. For one thing, according to Forbes, the show is prime time's top source of ad revenue after 'American Idol.' According to the New York Times, a season of 'Two and a Half Men' is worth $250 million to CBS and WBTV in ad dollars and syndication fees.

Granted, the show wouldn't command as much for commercial time or draw quite as many viewers without Sheen. (Well, it might at first, as viewers tune in out of curiosity over whether the transition works.) On the other hand, without Sheen's salary (reported variously as between $1.2 million and $1.8 million per episode, including some syndication back-end money), the show won't be as costly to produce, since whoever they hire will be cheaper.

Might CBS and WBTV still have to cough up money to Sheen if he sues?
Yes. Sheen has threatened to sue for breach of contract over his firing. He also says a clause in his contract entitles him to get paid even if the show continues without him. WBTV, in turn, argues that he was fired for cause, and that the firing voids its contractual obligation to keep paying him.

Twenty-five years ago, Valerie Harper sued over her firing (due to a salary dispute) from the NBC sitcom named after her. The rebooted show starred Sandy Duncan as a new character and changed its name from 'Valerie' to 'The Hogan Family.' It lasted three more seasons. Harper's breach-of-contract suit earned her $1.4 million.

That probably seemed a substantial sum a quarter-century ago; today, it's about what Sheen earns per episode of 'Two and a Half Men.' An out-of-court settlement in litigation with Sheen (and it would be out-of-court, since neither side will want to take the case to trial and have their financial arrangements made public) will probably cost the show's producers a lot more than $1.4 million, but not so much as to make WBTV regret firing Sheen.

What would happen if CBS cancels the show?
Not much. The network and WBTV would be out $250 million for the coming season, but they'll still have syndication revenue on eight seasons' worth of episodes rolling in for years to come. Plus, CBS has some other strong comedy hits, notably, 'How I Met Your Mother' (which CBS just renewed for another two years) and Lorre's 'The Big Bang Theory' (renewed for another three years).

Beyond that, the CBS comedy bench isn't very deep, but it does include 'Mike and Molly,' another show by Lorre. As long as CBS keeps Lorre a happy hitmaker in the network's stable, Moonves probably isn't too worried about plugging the void that a 'Two and a Half Men' vacancy would leave.

As movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (who doesn't have a dog in this fight) noted last week in an interview with Piers Morgan, "No one show is going to make a difference to CBS. CBS under Les Moonves makes a billion dollars a year in a business that people say isn't working"

Would 'Two and a Half Men' even be any good without Sheen?
Like anyone cares - except the show's fans, of course. (And has anyone asked them?) Who knows, after eight years, maybe a drastic change in personnel is just what the show needs to keep its creative juices flowing.


Without Charlie Sheen on board, should CBS and WBTV keep 'Two and a Half Men' going?
Yes, as long as they keep the Charlie Harper character and recast him.260 (13.7%)
Yes, if they replace Charlie Harper with a new character.646 (34.0%)
Yes, it'll be fine without Charlie Sheen, as 'One and a Half Men.'124 (6.5%)
No, without Charlie Sheen, there's no point.621 (32.7%)
No, even with Charlie Sheen, the show had long since jumped the shark.249 (13.1%)


[Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman]

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bluereality909

Dump the sitcom ! It shows the world what happens when you over pay and indulge a person. Charlie Sheen is a drug addicted, womanizer, self centered, spoiled hollywood boy, from an errogant father. He has been given everything life can give and all he has done with it, is prove he can't handle it. With all the testimony concerning his cocaine use and violent threats to woman, he needs a tastefully padded cell.

April 29 2011 at 2:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MarieLove10

why dont they try a Charile woman i think that would funny

April 29 2011 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
zemaitiscpas

No Charlie. No show. That simple.

April 28 2011 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
src2835

That show is Charlie Sheen, without him they have no material to work with. There is no replacement for Charlie, if they do that the show will tank.

April 28 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
OZZY

Hey I have a novel idea... why not cast Sheen's brethren EMLIO ESTEVEZ. Now that would be comedic.

April 28 2011 at 9:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pamela

Can't stand the wimpy, selfish no spine brother, or his idiot son. They could start over using the new husband of Charlie's borther(the kid doctor), as Sheen, he is very good, kill off (ok lost at sea)Sheen, his wimpy brother and his bothers first wife, have the kid doc move into Charlies house and shape up the kid, homework, no back talk with out dire consinquinces, and start worring about ivy leage schools! A second man that becomes th lover of the 1st bitchy exwife's 2nd husband. Somewhere down the road the bitch makes it back, finds out her kid is better off without her and her bitchy ways, court can order her to go to classes to learn how to be a better mother and liive in a trailer where she belongs, then the ratty wimpy brother can wash up on a beach far far away, where he can learn to take care of himself. Then in a year or two a sober, married with kids Sheen shows up with mega money and outshines everyone and the wimpy brother reverts to type, and relizes he needs to stay away until his stops being so selfish and jelous of his brother, but let him glote at his ex wife living in the trailer. As always the boys mother will be herself.

April 28 2011 at 9:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dollyg624

WITHOUT CHARLIE SHEEN THERE IS NO TWO AND A HALF MEN.. CHARLIE IS THE ONE THAT MAKES THE SHOW..... WITHOUT CHARLIE I NO LONGER WILL WATCH THE SHOW.....WE ALL WANT CHARLIE BACK.....

April 28 2011 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bubbebobby1

I was a loyal fan of "Two and a Half Men" not because of Charlie Sheen but because of the show itself.ow I feel the show has become redundant and should end. Chuck Lorre is a great writer and I'm sure he will come up with another great show.

April 13 2011 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alan

cast Matt Dillon- who they should've in the first place!

March 29 2011 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacy

I feel that they should not replace Sheen's character. Allen's son is old enough to get a girl prego, so they should have that happen and have him raise the baby, that way it is still 2 and 1/2 men. Sheens character can go abroad with Rose or something like that leaving Allen the house for now. Replacing him would just kill the show, they do enough of that on soap opera's we don't need it any where else.

March 09 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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