Charlie Sheen's Train Wreck Hits Hollywood

Charlie Sheen
Riccardo S. Savi | Getty Images
Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen's train wreck continues, even as he's on hiatus from shooting "Two and a Half Men,"home undergoing rehab.

After telling college students "Don't do crack,"he clarified on The Dan Patrick radio showyesterday "I said stay off the crack, and I still think that's pretty good advice, unless you can manage it socially. If you can manage it socially, then go for it, but not a lot of people can, you know."

He said he's eager to get back to work on the show, noting "I heal pretty quickly." But here's the part of his comments that pose a threat: "but I also unravel pretty quickly. Get me right now."

Still, sources tell me we could hear as soon as tomorrow that Warner Bros. is gearing up to resume shooting the show at the end of the month.

Remarkably, Sheen's shenanigans haven't scared away advertisers — the show has been broadcast with a full commercial load and strong pricing every single week. This is a notable commentary on the fact that Hollywood and audiences have come to take this kind of behavior as yet another cost of doing business. Viewers aren't calling for a boycott; ratings of the show are as high as ever. Despite his starring role on TMZ and tabloids, Sheen is still the top paid actor on television on the top rated TV sitcom, drawing more than $200,000 per 30 second spot to CBS.

But Sheen's rehab shooting hiatus comes with its costs, not to mention a headache and a hassle for Warner Brothers and CBS . Even if the show resumes shooting on Feb 28th as expected, the production still will fall three to four episodes behind this season, which has implications.

CBS pays $4 million per episode, but it only pays for the episodes it's delivered. If it misses out on a few episodes, it'll run reruns instead, at no cost to the network. And ratings on "Two and a Half Men" reruns are remarkably high, higher than many first-run rival sitcoms, so if anything CBS could end up saving money.

Earlier this month CBS issued this statement. “Looking forward, the financial impact of the shutdown is not material to CBS. Any ratings declines will be more than offset by the reduced programming costs for episodes lost this season." But the show does play a key role in CBS comedy lineup and has proven a crucial launch pad for other shows. If the show doesn't resume as expected, that could mean some serious repercussions for CBS' comedy schedule.

Time Warner's Warner brothers could end up losing up to ten million in incremental profits from those three or four lost episodes. The studio is paid $4 million per episode by CBS, but about half of that is costs associated with production, including Sheen's salary, which Time Warner certainly won't be paying if he's MIA. Warner Bros. would also be losing about $850,000 per missed episode — that's how much News Corp's FX pays per show. But "Two and a Half Men" has been such a long, successful show — now in its eighth season — even these hiccups won't hurt the show in syndication. Sources tell me that based on its seasons so far, it's already poised to be a billion dollar asset for the studio.

Still, you can bet that execs at both Warner Bros. and CBS are ready for Sheen to get clean and back to work.

Questions? Comments?