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Charlie Sheen sues Warner Bros. for $ 100 million
Sheen claimed he was fired after he criticized the producers of hugely popular show 'Two And A Half Men'.
Los Angeles: 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 US 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.
'FANTASY LOTTERY PAYDAY'
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.
Tracking celebrities in trouble used to be so easy. First, there was the problem, then a public apology followed by a trip to rehab and interview in People magazine or on Oprah Winfrey's talk show.
Now, there's Charlie Sheen.
The actor's eerie, self-made webcasts dubbed "Sheen's Korner," posted online this week to mock his former "Two and a Half Men" bosses and defend himself, mark celebrity behavior that has gone beyond the norm. And his Web rants may signal a future in which stars use the Internet to give fans unfettered access to their antics, for better or worse.
"Since YouTube, digital culture has aided and enhanced -- or maybe the better word is abetted -- the celebrity meltdown," said Wired magazine senior editor Nancy Miller. "This will be a future where we see celebrity screw-ups happen in real-time."
Sheen's expletive-filled webcasts show him agitated, smoking cigarettes through his nose, spewing energetic rants and repeating the same phrases over and over. Even celebrity website TMZ, which is known for publishing videos of outrageous celebrity antics, labeled Sheen's videos "disturbing."
His behavior contrasts to pop star Britney Spears' when she suffered her career meltdown in 2007 and 2008. At that time, most of her antics were detailed the traditional way, by the paparazzi. She eventually found treatment, had her affairs taken over by her father and got her life back on track.
Sheen has done just the opposite, making decisions on everything that goes on around him and pouring out his unchecked views to fans via online videos and tweets.
"The more out-of-control the situation has become, the more he has broadcast himself -- literally streaming his opinions, views and rants," said People magazine assistant editor Kate Coyne, adding Sheen has invited people to watch his apparent breakdown "as it occurs, which is unprecedented."
Yet, while it may seem bizarre to some, his behavior has proven popular. The 45-year-old has gained more than 2 million Twitter followers. His buzzwords such as "winning" and boasts of possessing "tiger blood" are rapidly invading pop culture.
His erratic webcasts -- which appeared filmed with his own phone -- were viewed more than 700,000 times, and his name has been linked to products ranging from soft drinks to comic books. To some, Sheen is still the rebellious Hollywood hero.
He has "created a new genre of 'meltdown-as-miniseries' that will inspire others to emulate him," said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of popular culture. "We seldom hear human beings talk like this, especially not human beings we all know through their on-screen work," he said.
Indeed, an old rule among the star-making machinery of publicists, talent managers and other celebrity handlers has been to keep clients' personal lives private for fear they might jeopardize public images and lead to fewer job offers.
But as technology gets easier to use and performers find it simple to post self-made videos and connect directly to fans, publicists may find them harder to control.
It may seem that, so far, Sheen's antics have only added to his fame, but some Hollywood watchers are saying the actor has reached the point where he crossed into infamy.
"His online appearances to date are quite freaky and really show that without a script he has little to offer," said Deadline Hollywood columnist Pete Hammond.
The detractors -- Sheen would call them "trolls" -- have already produced a "Sheen Free" feed on Twitter.
Whether Sheen's rants are seen as the truthful observations of a Hollywood star or odd, stream-of-consciousness outbursts during a personal meltdown, one thing is certain: more and more celebrities will be bringing their lives online.
"We can look forward to higher levels of famous people stooping to new lows. And then, the montage on YouTube. And then, the remix," said Miller.
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