Could the Two and a Half Men TV show carry on without Charlie Sheen? It seems as unlikely as American Idol continuing without Simon Cowell. While Idol is scheduled to go on without Cowell next season, supposedly Men won’t try it without Sheen.
Currently in its seventh season, Two and a Half Men stars Sheen and Jon Cryer as Charlie and Alan, two brothers living the single life together. The “Half Man” in the title doesn’t seem very appropriate anymore since it refers to Alan’s nearly full-grown son, Jake (Angus T. Jones). Conchata Ferrell, Holland Taylor, and Marin Hinkle star as well.
Although Warner Bros. is in the midst of a multi-year broadcast agreement for Men, it may not get that far. Sheen has been besieged by personal problems, most notably a Christmas Day altercation with his wife, Brooke Mueller, that landed him in jail. Both Sheen and Mueller have subsequently entered rehab.
Prior to finishing production of this season’s episodes, Sheen let it be known that he was ready to leave the sitcom. He supposedly wants to get back into movies and regularly receives offers to do them, but can’t because of his sitcom schedule.
But this isn’t exactly news to the network and studio. Sheen told People, “Approaching the start of the current season and as far back as June ’09, I submitted my terms for season eight to Warner Bros. and CBS respectfully. Both parties have known the score for over a year. In no way, has this been a hasty or negligent 11th hour surprise. I offer this information out of love and respect to my crew, my on-set family, my writers, executive staff, as well as my real family, my dear friends and my loyal fans.”
There’s been wide speculation that his being ready to walk away is a tactic for Sheen to get a significant bump in his paycheck. The actor reportedly makes about $900,000 per episode of Men, including backend profits. That makes him the highest-paid sitcom star on TV right now.
If this is a negotiating ploy, it’s hard to imagine that Sheen could be in a better bargaining position. It’s the top sitcom on television and CBS has a big interest in keeping it as an anchor of their Monday night schedule. They’ve already renewed the show through the 2011-12 season and Warner Bros. is ready to keep selling episodes for big bucks in syndication.
If a deal can’t be struck, the show is over according to RadarOnline. Unnamed sources at Warner Bros. say there’s been no discussions of trying to continue the show without Sheen. Taylor recently told EW, “I can’t even imagine.”
The actress believes Sheen is the brand of the show and says that his salary isn’t out of line, pointing out that the six castmembers of Friends were paid $1 million per episode almost a decade ago. Taylor also said, “I think he could walk away from it and be happy… Whatever he does, he commits himself and works very hard. He knows his lines before anybody. He is on time and responsible for the show, and a good guy on the set.”
According to Deadline, negotiations are still going on behind the scenes with a per episode rate of $1 million being bandied about. That’s significantly lower than previous rumors of $1.5-2 million per episode and may not be enough to get Sheen back.
If the worst happens, CBS is already trying out different scheduling options. They’re airing The Big Bang Theory in Men’s timeslot on Monday and will follow it with a Big Bang repeat. If Men doesn’t come back, Big Bang would likely move to 9pm and a new Chuck Lorre sitcom called Mike & Molly could take the 9:30pm timeslot. While it wouldn’t be the network’s preference, there are far worse scenarios.
However things work out, negotiations with Sheen and Two and a Half Men’s future should be finalized prior to CBS’ advertiser upfront presentation on May 19th.
What do you think? Will the show and Sheen return for season eight?
Image courtesy CBS.