CBS and Warner Bros. have agreed to shut down production on Two and a Half Men for the remainder of the current season, after a violent and anti-Semitic rant by Charlie Sheen led both companies to the conclusion that they have had enough of the troubled star.
“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,” the companies said in a joint statement.
The show was slated to return from hiatus next week for a run of four additional episodes, bringing the already reduced order to 20 installments for this season.
Sheen verbally attacked Two and a Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre, referring to him as a “clown,” a “stupid, stupid little man” and saying he “violently hates the producer,” poking fun at his name. In a subsequent letter to TMZ, Sheen called Lorre a “contaminated little maggot” and wished the producer “nothing but pain.”
The financial toll of Sheen’s latest sociopathic break will be considerable. Two and a Half Men is currently the most watched sitcom on network TV, averaging more than 14 million viewers this year and now, in its eighth season, is a $1 billion dollar-plus franchise.
The program’s network and syndication license fees fetch an estimated $3 million per episode, according to analysts. And with roughly 170 episodes in the can, that adds up to a cool $500 million. Over the last three years, Men has generated an average $160 million in national ad sales for CBS, according to Kantar Media.
Moreover, as the network’s Monday night linchpin, Men lifts all boats. Its lead-in audience set the table for the success of Mike & Molly and Hawaii Five-O, arguably the only two new breakout hits of the 2010-11 season.
The show had been picked up through the 2011-12 season although that renewal is now up in the air.
In the meantime, there is no word at present on what CBS will use to fill the Monday 9 p.m. slot the remainder of the season. With only one original episode of Men in the can, the network could double pump Mike & Molly, which had its inaugural season episode order upped to 24. Or it could utilize one of its other current comedies, including How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory or Rules of Engagement, which also snagged two additional episodes for the season.