It sounds as if there's been bad blood simmering beneath the surface for some time now. Years, in fact.
Though Charlie Sheen had been collecting the heftiest per-episode paycheck in the sitcom biz, Warner Bros. recalls that the negotiations that got Sheen his lucrative contract nearly eight years ago were "a nightmare."
And facing off against the former Two and a Half Men star now, under even less friendly circumstances, is bringing it all back.
While Sheen was appearing in family court in an unsuccessful bid to get full custody of his 2-year-old twins, the rest of his legal team was elsewhere within the halls of justice to argue that the actor should be allowed to take his $100 million lawsuit against his ex-bosses in front of a judge.
"Our position is, the arbitition clause is not valid," head attorney Martin Singer stated today before L.A. Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman, referring to a clause in Sheen's contract that refers contract disputes to private arbitration rather than a public trial.
"They would like this to be handled in arbitration where each party is allowed just one deposition and then it is up to arbitrator," Singer said. "That in itself is unconscionable."
When Sheen was going up against a "$26 billion entity" when working out the terms of his Men deal, the actor did not have the ability to negotiate a no-arbitration cause, Singer argued.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. doesn't have fond memories of those days, either.
"It was a nightmare," studio counsel John Spiegel said in court of the "long and protracted" 2003 contract talks that resulted in Sheen's sweet deal. "He had a long list of things he wanted."
Among the things that Sheen wanted and subsequently got, according to Spiegel, were $2 million an episode for a guaranteed 48 episodes; a narrowing of his morality clause (that should answer a few questions right there); use of the corporate jet; a private hair stylist; and a pass from the first day of rehearsals.
Therefore, Spiegel argued, Sheen could probably have successfully argued to chuck the arbitration clause, as well.
Howard Weitzman, attorney for Men cocreator Chuck Lorre, said that his client is also entitled to arbitration and thinks "we should all be there together."
It's now up to Goodman to decide the fate of Sheen's lawsuit, whether it must be worked out behind closed doors or not. The judge has 30 days to issue a ruling, but the court information officer tells E! News that he hears Goodman might take only a fraction of that time to decide.
"I think the judge was extremely tolerant and fair to let all the parties speak at length," Singer told E! News after court. "This is an example of why parties want to go to court rather than private arbitration."
As for Sheen, he didn't witness any of this because he had to hightail it to Van Nuys Airport to hop a jet to Washington, D.C., in time for his show tonight. He'll be there a little late, 9 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., but he will be there.
—Additional reporting by Ken Baker