LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood appeared to be distancing itself from “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen Friday after days of erratic behavior and insults put the future of his top-rated TV comedy in jeopardy.
Sheen, on vacation in the Bahamas after a month of “rehab” at his Los Angeles home, sent off more angry messages to the U.S. media Friday insisting he was sober but calling his bosses “Nazis,” “hypocrites” and “clowns” for pulling the plug on his CBS TV show for the remainder of this season.
Speculation was rife about the long term future of “Two and a Half Men” — or at least Sheen’s lead role in it as a womanizing bachelor.
Some TV writers wondered if the 45 year-old actor committed “career suicide” with his expletive-filled attacks on the show’s producer and co-creator. Dozens of fans slammed Sheen on Twitter and the Internet and hoped the show would go on next season without him. But whether it will was anybody’s guess.
“CBS and makers Warner Bros Television may very well decide to call it a day on ‘Two and a Half Men’ because the hassle is not worth it,” said Michael Schneider of TV Guide Magazine.
TV industry sources said a deal was already in place for a 9th season of the comedy, but they declined to speculate whether Sheen would be in it.
“Two and a Half Men” has been a major cash cow for CBS and Warner Bros Television, pulling in millions of dollars in advertising revenue and syndication deals.
But a CBS executive said the decision to cancel the remaining eight shows of the season would have “no material impact in the short term on a company the size of CBS.”
Barclays Capital said that the network’s Monday night line-up might suffer in the ratings, but “the financial impact to CBS will be difficult to quantify in the short-term.”
“Two and a Half Men,” now in its 8th season, gets about 15 million weekly viewers. But repeat telecasts bring a robust 10 million — higher than many other TV shows — and healthy ad revenue for the network, industry sources said.
Schneider said that with eight seasons of “Men” under their belts, the TV show would continue to do well in syndication for Warner Bros. The Hollywood Reporter estimated Warner Bros makes up to $250 million in domestic syndication deals on the show.
But it is also costly to make. Sheen is the highest paid actor on U.S. television with a reported annual salary of $27.5 million. Neither he nor the rest of the cast and crew will be paid for the eight lost episodes.
If “Two and a Half Men,” does not continue, there were questions in Hollywood about how much damage Sheen had done to his career. Before the sitcom made it to TV in 2003, Sheen had starred in dozens of movies including “Platoon,” “Wall Street” and the “Major League” baseball movies.
He had been in line to make a third “Major League” film, but producer James G. Robinson told TMZ.com Friday he would not risk using Sheen if he doesn’t clean up his act.
“When an actor doesn’t show up for work, you can lose half a million dollars a day paying the 250 other people there for the shoot and the costs for the set,” Robinson said Friday.
Cable channel HBO tersely refuted claims by Sheen that he was in talks for a new program of his own that would land him a whopping $5 million an episode.
Sheen was persuaded to seek help in January after a cocaine-fueled 36-hour party, months of rabble rousing with porn stars and a conviction for assaulting his now ex-wife.
Friday, he was compared in U.S. media to fallen actor Mel Gibson and starlet Lindsay Lohan, whose careers have tumbled in recent years as each battled substance abuse.
Schneider said he doubted Sheen’s Hollywood career was over, but added; “It will require him really cleaning up and doing a little bit of a mea culpa tour.
“But this is Hollywood. Everyone can reinvent themselves.”
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte