Charlie Sheen's personal problems have shut down my fave show. Will CBS punish him somehow, or is he too rich and powerful?
—Paul, via the Answer B!tch inbox
Legal experts suspect Charlie Sheen's Two and A Half Men contract does include some sort of phrasing aimed at taming all that crazy. Specifically, there's probably a morality clause that allows producers to can or fine Sheen if he acts up.
That would make sense. Before Sheen's current mess, the actor's past was a parade of drug use, porn actresses, abuse allegations, paroles, and the occasional, you know, accidental shooting. I'm told producers may also have a case if they want to sue Sheen for breach of contract.
So does that mean Sheen will soon face a world of financial hurt?
You may not like this...
...but probably not.
Think about it. Two and a Half Men is a hugely popular show. It commands some of the highest advertising rates for CBS—about $230,000 per 30-second blip. Sheen's own power within the franchise is all too clear when you realize he's reportedly paid around $900,000 per episode, supposedly making him the highest-paid actor on television.
If producers decide they need Sheen happy and back at work more than they need him angry and broke, would you really be surprised?
"This is a matter of economics," says Aaron Moss, a litigator at Greenberg Glusker. "It may turn out that it's in everyone's interest that Sheen continue on the show."
And that's less likely if producers decide to sue him, fine him, or, of course, if they fire him.
"These kinds of lawsuits usually go forward only if producers no longer want a relationship with the talent," Moss tells me.
That isn't to say that Sheen may not suffer in a more minor way—say, by becoming only the second-highest-paid actor on TV. Producers may use Sheen's latest abuse allegations as leverage in his next round of contract negotiations, Moss posits. Of course, the producers wouldn't exactly come out and say that.
"I could imagine it going something like this," Moss suggests. "The producers might say something like, 'Well, we missed this many episodes [because of Sheen's troubles] and we're going to be losing money, and we don't know if we're going to be able to continue the show, you've got to help us out here'" by lowering your price.
Catch all the chuckles and shenanigans in our Charlie Sheen: Road to Rehab gallery.