CBS Axes production on “Two and a Half Men”
“Two and a Half Men” is done for now, and possibly forever.
Yesterday CBS and Warner Bros. canceled the sitcom for the rest of the season, following a bizarre radio interview yesterday in which the troubled star attacked show creator Chuck Lorre in an anti-Semitic rant.
The show, television’s highest-rated comedy, had been on production hiatus the past month while the hard-partying Sheen went to rehab yet again. It was to resume production next week.
But instead of participating in his at-home rehab program, Sheen has spent much of the past few weeks spouting off on syndicated radio shows, insisting he was ready to go back to work but that his bosses wouldn’t let him.
His antics were juvenile but expected, and tolerated, until yesterday, when Sheen stepped well over the line, even for him.
“There’s something this side of deplorable that a certain Chaim Levine — yeah, that’s Chuck’s real name — mistook this rock star for his own selfish exit strategy, bro,” Sheen said yesterday on the syndicated “Alex Jones Show.” “Check it, Alex: I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that his unevolved mind cannot process.
“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.”
Lorre’s real name is Charles Levine; Chaim is the Hebrew word for Charles.
CBS issued a terse statement last night in response.
“Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of ‘Two and a Half Men’ for the remainder of the season,” it said.
And it’s difficult to imagine the show coming back next season, after what Sheen did next. He sent a rant to TMZ in response to CBS’s statement in which the actor further attacked Lorre and called for his fans to “walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable wrong.”
Sheen, who makes a reported $1.2 million per episode, went into rehab for the first time last year, shutting down production of the show. He’s also been hospitalized several times this season, suffering from various ills related to his excessive partying.
Up till yesterday, the network had maintained that Sheen did his job, and well, when he was on set. But network executives were clearly concerned over his behavior off the set, which has become increasingly erratic. CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler discussed those concerns during last month’s Television Critics Association tour.
“Men” is the most-watched comedy in primetime and in syndication, where Warner Bros. stands to lose millions in revenue by bringing the season to an abrupt end, with just 16 of 24 episodes filmed.
But CBS, Warner Bros., Lorre and Sheen clearly need to work out whether there’s any future for the show. More counseling for Sheen is not the answer.
And without Sheen the show would not survive, as one of the titular “Men” and the character whom straight man Jon Cryer plays off of.
CBS probably will not officially decide the show’s fate until May, after Sheen has had some cooling off time and the network decides if it can repair its relationship with its troubling star, or whether it wants to.
In case you’re wondering what else Sheen said on “Jones,” here’s a few of the craziest bits:
- He called Thomas Jefferson a “pussy” after Jones told him he sounded like the third president.
- He called Alcoholics Anonymous a “bootleg cult” with a 5 percent success rate.
- He said, “I have a disease? Bulls**t! I cured it … with my mind.”
By Toni Fitzgerald