Here’s What CBS and Warner Brothers Lose Without Charlie Sheen

In his eighth season on Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen was making nearly $2 million an episode.  The seventh season was almost his last, with Sheen holding out for more money.
Ultimately a deal was struck, with CBS (NYSE:CBS) unwilling to lose the central character in one of the most popular shows on television, averaging 15.0 million viewers a night in its seventh season.  Sheen signed a contract that kept him with the show for two more years, until the 2011-2012 season.However, when Sheen had to enter a drug rehabilitation program earlier this year, the show suspended filming for the rest of the eighth season. Then, following a lot of negative press and erratic behavior from Sheen himself, CBS and Warner Brothers (NYSE:TWX) officially announced their decision to release Sheen from his contract on Monday with a single sentence statement on the matter:

“After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen’s services on Two and a Half Men effective immediately.”

It is, as yet, undetermined whether the show will recast Sheen’s character, or whether it will be canceled outright, though the latter seems rather unlikely, given the show’s profitability.
Warner Brothers, the show’s producer, currently makes nearly $250 million in domestic syndication revenue from the show, and CBS sells 30-second advertisement spots for over $200,000, averaging upwards of $3 million an episode.  Advertising revenue exceeded $155 million in the show’s seventh season alone.  However, with Sheen’s recent termination, it already stands to lose a considerable amount of that.While CBS pays about $4 million an episode, and Sheen’s paycheck makes up almost half of that, according to the Los Angeles Times, the money the network will save may not make up for what it will lose because it has yet to be seen how Sheen’s absence will affect the show’s ratings.

TV stations with syndication rights may now want to renegotiate their deals.  And not only is the show itself profitable, but its position as an anchor in the Monday night line-up has been valuable in launching other popular shows for CBS, including The Big Bang Theory.  Everyone involved has a lot to lose if the show fails without Sheen.  So the question remains, what was their reason in giving Sheen the boot?Well, simply put, Charlie Sheen has been a bit of an embarrassment and a liability for CBS and Warner Bros.  His drug problems have been well publicized, and the recklessness with which he goes about his personal life has likely spilled into his work life on occasion.

In the fourth episode of Sheen’s web series, Sheen’s Korner, the first filmed after Sheen learned he’d been fired, the actor blasted his former employers.  Addressing the show’s creator, writer, and executive producer, Chuck Lorre, Sheen said, “Where are you hiding, you silly clown?  Behind your narcissism, your greed, your hatred of yourself and women?  Which person are you cowering behind for cover? I see you, moron, behind that plastic smile, behind your need to be liked.”

Addressing the possibility of his character being played by another actor, Sheen said, “Good luck putting those tin-can shit-brain [words] in the mush-mouth of some arrogant carcass you’ve traded for this warlock.”  Did I mention he refers to himself as a Vatican warlock assassin?  There really are some gems coming out of this guy.  And if you don’t have time to watch Sheen’s Korner, you can simply follow Sheen on Twitter, where #tigerblood and #winning were trending for days.

In fact, as much as the press is covering Charlie Sheen, I don’t think anyone is talking more about Charlie Sheen than, well, Charlie Sheen.  He created his Twitter account on March 1, and has already tweeted ninety-two times.  Still, he’s only giving the public what they want.  In only nine days, Sheen has gotten himself almost two and a half million followers.  He even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, gaining one million followers in his first 25 hours and 17 minutes on Twitter.  Clearly Sheen has something going for him that Libya does not.

With everything we know about Sheen, it makes sense that he was fired on the grounds of having committed “moral turpitude” with regards to his drug use, or maybe it was his felony domestic violence charges?  However, Sheen’s lawyer isn’t buying that as an excuse, saying that Sheen has been pulling this stuff for years, and it never seemed to bother the show’s producers before.

In an interview with Good Morning America that took place back in February, Sheen was already talking about suing CBS for breach of contract when they discontinued the show for the remainder of the season.  Some reports said that Sheen would be suing for $300 million.  Just imagine what he’ll be going after now.What I’m curious about is, who is really winning here?  It seems to me like everyone is losing, despite what Sheen might say to the contrary.  CBS and Warner Brothers stand to lose a substantial amount of money, both from the lost revenue as well as legal fees and the possibility that Sheen actually wins the lawsuit he’s likely to file.  And then there are the viewers.

Maybe those of you who followed Two and a Half Men can give us some insight on the matter. Will you continue to watch the show without Sheen?  Do you want him to be replaced by John Stamos?  And most importantly, does tiger blood run through your veins?  #winning