December 24, 2008 / 8:30 PM / 10 years ago

Warner Bros. sues CBS over "Two and a Half Men"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Warner Bros studio sued broadcaster CBS Corp over top-rated television sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” claiming the TV network owes the studio $49 million in production costs and fees because the show has become such a big hit.

Charlie Sheen (R), Jon Cryer (L) and Angus T. Jones pose with their award for favorite TV comedy for "Two and a Half Men" at the 33rd annual People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California January 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Warner Bros’ lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, states that if the show it produces for CBS was renewed for seasons five and six, CBS was obligated to share more revenue and allow Warner to recoup costs from seasons one through four.

“CBS has reaped the benefits of the tremendous success of ‘Two and a Half Men’ but wants to deny Warner Bros the right to its agreed-upon share. It should not be permitted to do so,” the lawsuit said.

A CBS had no immediate comment.

Warner Bros, owned by Time Warner Inc, said in the lawsuit that it is customary in the TV industry for a studio to reap the additional revenue it is seeking from a show that proves successful.

The studio said producing an episode of “Two and a Half Men” cost $1.2 million in its first season, and that the network knew the license fee of $750,000 per episode it was paying was insufficient to cover costs. The studio said the license fee was subject to “modest” increases after that.

Warner Bros also is seeking “premium” payments above the license fees for seasons five and six because the show has been the top rated TV sitcom in recent years and it reaches many viewers in the coveted 18- to 49-year-old age range.

The lawsuit said the show generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the network.

Actor Charlie Sheen, who plays a womanizing bachelor living with his brother (Jon Cryer) and his brother’s son, topped the list of high-paid TV stars at nearly $20 million a year, TV Guide magazine has reported.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte, Leslie Gevirtz

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