Actor Charlie Sheen, the star of “Two and a Half Men,” sued Time Warner Inc.’s WB Studio Enterprises unit and the producer of the television series for $100 million over his firing from the top-rated comedy.
Sheen accused Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre, the show’s creator, of breach of contract and retaliation, among other claims, in a complaint filed today in California state court in Santa Monica. He also sued on behalf of the entire cast and the crew of the show that was halted last month before all the episodes for the current television season had been finished.
“Two and a Half Men,” produced by Warner Bros. for CBS Corp., is the most-watched comedy on television. Warner Bros. fired Sheen, 45, on March 7 after a series of interviews in which he denounced Lorre.
“The suspension and termination of Mr. Sheen occurred only after Mr. Sheen had finally been provoked into criticizing Lorre in response to his harassment and disparagement campaign which had been going on for years,” according to the actor’s complaint.
Paul McGuire, a spokesman for Warner Bros. Television, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Sheen, who starred in 177 episodes of the show, claims that Warner Bros. didn’t want to fire him when he was facing felony charges last year, nor when he was undergoing rehab and when he was “the subject of salacious gossip stories” after being accused of trashing a hotel room in New York.
“If that is the case, it makes it more difficult for Warner Bros. to come forward now and claim they fired him over his conduct,” Jeffrey Spitz, an entertainment lawyer with Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP in Los Angeles, said in an interview. “It’s an interesting approach and potentially advantageous for Sheen.”
The lawsuit makes it less likely that Warner Bros. and Sheen will reconcile, allowing the actor to return to “Two and a Half Men,” said Spitz, who isn’t involved in the case.
“That bridge is slowly getting burned,” Spitz said.
CBS and Warner Bros. stopped work on the season’s last four episodes on Feb. 24 “based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition,” the companies said at the time. Warner Bros. was weighing the future of the show without Sheen, McGuire said March 7.
Sheen said in the complaint that Warner Bros. fired him after he had undergone private rehab treatment at the studio’s request. After he was sober, passed several drug tests, and was “ready, willing and able to return to work,” he was told “No,” according to the complaint.
The case is Sheen v. Lorre, SC111794, California Superior Court (Santa Monica.)
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.