NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Charlie Sheen escalated his war of words with his former "Two and A Half Men" employers on Monday, demanding a pay rise as his lawyer threatened legal action over canceled episodes of the top-rated comedy.
Sheen, whose erratic behavior has put the future of his show in jeopardy, boasted on Monday morning chat shows about his partying lifestyle and said he was tired of pretending he is not "a total frigging rock star from Mars."
Hours later, his long time Los Angeles publicist quit, saying he could no longer do his job.
"I have worked with Charlie Sheen for a long time and I care about him very much. However, at this time, I'm unable to work effectively as his publicist and have respectfully resigned," Stan Rosenfield said in a statement.
Sheen, the highest paid actor on U.S. TV, launched several expletive-filled rants last week against "Two and A Half Men" creator, Chuck Lorre, causing the CBS network and series producer Warner Bros. Television to cancel production for the rest of the season.
Sheen's attorney on Monday sent letters to CBS and Warner Bros. demanding that the actor be paid for the eight episodes that will now no longer be made, the companies said.
According to celebrity website TMZ.com, the letter claims that Sheen was ready and able to go back to work, and is owed payment of roughly $16 million because of the shutdown.
Sheen said in an interview aired on "Good Morning America" that he would defend himself through "violent hatred" aimed at him, and he felt let down the show was stopped.
"I was actually disappointed," Sheen said. "People misinterpret my passion for anger."
Speculation has been rife about the future of "Two and A Half Men" would continue next season, with or without Sheen's leading role as a womanizing bachelor -- a part that seems to mimic the actor in real life.
He told NBC's "Today" show on Monday that returning would require a pay rise, saying the roughly $2 million per episode he makes now is too low. "I am a man of my word, so I will finish the TV show. I'll even do Season 10, but at this point, (because of) psychological distress, oh my God, it's 3 mil an episode. Take it or leave it," he said.
"I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special," Sheen added. "You can't process me with a normal brain."
Production of "Two and a Half Men" was first suspended in January when Sheen, 45, was persuaded to seek help after a 36-hour cocaine-fueled party at his home.
ABC News and celebrity website Radaronline had Sheen's blood and urine tested, and revealed no drugs in his system for the past 72 hours. "I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available because if you try it once, you will die," he said in the ABC interview.
The last time he took drugs, which he estimated to be about a month to six weeks ago, Sheen said he was "banging seven gram rocks and finishing them because that is how I roll."
He was now bored with drugs, he said, but boasted about his old partying ways. "The run I was on made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards, all of them just look like droopy-eyed armless children."
CBS is part of CBS Corp and Warner Bros Television is part of the Warner Bros unit of Time Warner Inc.
Editing by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte