LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Charlie Sheen struck back on Thursday at the makers of the hit TV sitcom "Two And A Half Men," suing them for $100 million and claiming they fired him from the show after he criticized producers.
Sheen, who has been in and out of drug and alcohol rehab in the past year, sued producer Chuck Lorre and a division of the giant Warner Bros. film and television studio on behalf of himself, the cast and crew of the No. 1-rated U.S. TV comedy.
"Defendant Chuck Lorre, one of the richest men in television who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, believes himself so wealthy and powerful that he can unilaterally decide to take money away from the dedicated cast and crew," the lawsuit states.
The show employs about 200 people.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims Lorre and Warner Bros., a division of media giant Time Warner Inc, "were able to generate more than a billion dollars" from the show that was in its ninth year before the current season's remaining episodes were canceled in January.
The suit also states that Warner Bros. was "quite happy" to employ Sheen and to sign him to a new contract last year even as he faced a criminal charge of assault against his ex-wife and was in rehab for substance abuse. Sheen eventually pleaded guilty to assault and served probation.
It was only after Sheen began criticizing Lorre and Warner Bros. in public over the past several weeks, following the current season's cancellation, that Warner Bros. decided to fire the actor for what it claimed was breach of contract, the suit adds.
Los Angeles attorney Howard Weitzman, who represents Lorre, called the suit's claims "as recklessly false and unwarranted as Mr. Sheen's rantings to the media." He added the lawsuit was "about a fantasy 'lottery' payday" for Sheen.
A Warner Bros. spokesman declined comment on the suit. But in a letter to Sheen's attorney on Monday, Warner Bros. said, "Your client has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill."
Warner Bros. added that in recent months, Sheen had been forgetting his lines, turning up late, missing rehearsals and making "comments poisoning key working relationships."
In recent weeks, Sheen has been on the offensive, giving interviews to the media in which he has called his former employers and any of his detractors "trolls."
The public war of words began in February, and included one interview Sheen gave to the Alex Jones syndicated radio show in which he called Lorre "a "stupid, stupid little man," among several derogatory, expletive-filled comments.
Sheen later appeared in several TV news interviews making similar statements. Since being fired, he began webcasts called "Sheen's Korner," ranting about whatever is on his mind.
On Thursday, Sheen tweeted: "Torpedo away...You corporate Trolls were warned. And now you've been served!"
His mannerisms and boasts have appeared bizarre to some. He has talked of having "tiger blood" and "Adonis DNA."
Still, in his lawsuit Sheen blamed Lorre for "humiliating, harassing, and disparaging" the actor for years and claimed Lorre refused to write scripts to finish the current season.
"Warner Bros. capitulated to Lorre's egotistical desire to punish Mr. Sheen and to stop work on the series for the rest of the season, and used its powerful public relations machine to create a myth to justify their conduct by wrongly blaming Mr. Sheen," the lawsuit says.
Editing by Peter Cooney