Multiple reports say Charlie Sheen is threatening to sue CBS and Warner Bros., TV for halting production on Two and a Half Men and putting him out of work. But does the actor have a case? The devil’s in the details of his multi-million contract that extends through June 2012.
One online report claims Sheen plans to retaliate by filing a $320 million “mental anguish” lawsuit against the media companies. But for someone who spent the last three days melting down over the radio airwaves — which was preceded by tabloid headlines about his antics in Las Vegas and a New York hotel — it seems unlikely Sheen could find a sympathetic judge and/or jury. “If he’s talking about mental anguish, based on the facts, I would think he would have a very high, high burden,” says entertainment attorney Barry Peek of the New York law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein. “With his actions over the last couple of years, his burden is quite high.”
During his interview with Good Morning America that aired today, Sheen said a lawsuit was necessary because “I don’t have a job. I got a whole family to support and love and people beyond myself. People a lot more important than me are relying on that money to fuel the magic.” As to how much he would sue for, Sheen said, “Tons. Put it on a scale, a little more, a little more, add some gold… bingo! I’m here to collect. And they are going to lose. I would recommend that they do an out-of-court settlement and fix this whole thing and pay the crew and get season 9 back on board.”
Getting the show “back on board,” however, seems unlikely right now, though CBS and Warner Bros., TV have yet to make a decision about the show’s ninth (and presumably final) season.”Things have to simmer down before any kind of clarity can be reached,” says one insider. Madison Avenue probably isn’t holding its breath. “We could be surprised and there is Les Moonves and Chuck Lorre and Charlie, the three musketeers, coming out on stage and showing that everybody is in love,” says Bill Carroll, director of programming at Katz Media. “It can happen, but I don’t think its going to happen. I think it’s past that point.”
In the meantime, Sheen may find relief in court if his contract makes arrangements for the possibility of an unexpected production shutdown. “He may have what’s called liquidated damages, a certain clause at the end of the day that represents a payout,” the attorney says. “At this point, he’s just threatening a lawsuit, but I don’t see one for psychological distress. He’s definitely under psychological stress, but he doesn’t have a lawsuit for it.”
Charlie Sheen says he’ll show up for work next week regardless of shutdown