Monday, March 07, 2011

Charlie Sheen: Not Half The Man He Used To Be

Actor Charlie Sheen has been fired from the Warner Bros hit comedy TV series "Two and a half Men" following a hiatus in production, leading to speculation that the show will go on without him.

The following is an edited transcript of the letter of termination to Sheen's lawyer Marty Singer:

"Martin D. Singer
Lavely & Singer

Re: Charlie Sheen/Two and a Half Men

Dear Mr. Singer:

We represent Warner Bros. Television (“Warner Bros.”) in this matter. This letter responds to your correspondence dated February 28 and March 2, 2011.

At the outset, let us state the obvious: Your client has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill. For months before the suspension of production, Mr. Sheen’s erratic behavior escalated while his condition deteriorated. His declining condition undermined the production in numerous and significant ways. Now, the entire world knows Mr. Sheen’s condition from his alarming outbursts over just the last few weeks. Warner Bros., CBS, and Chuck Lorre have done everything within their power to get Mr. Sheen the help he so badly and obviously needs--entreating his family and representatives; visiting him at home; offering to rearrange production schedules to accommodate his treatment; and even making an airplane available to take him to a rehabilitation clinic before he reneged on his commitment to enter such a facility.

In halting production of Two and a Half Men (the “Show”) for the remainder of the season and suspending Mr. Sheen’s employment on the Show, Warner Bros. took the only responsible action open to it--morally and legally--in these painful circumstances. Warner Bros. would not, could not, and should not attempt to continue “business as usual” while Mr. Sheen destroys himself as the world watches.

Your response to the actions taken by those who have tried to save Mr. Sheen is eight pages of diatribe and threats of litigation. Much of your tirade is directed at Mr. Lorre, who ironically has worked tirelessly trying to convince Mr. Sheen to seek help before he self-destructed. The balance of this letter responds to your hyperbole with the facts. What Warner Bros. sincerely hopes is that you, and others who are close to Mr. Sheen, will focus your energies on what no one so far has been able to do: get your client the sustained, rigorous and effective treatment that he so urgently needs.

In light of the circumstances summarized below, Warner Bros. is exercising its rights to terminate its Agreement with Mr. Sheen. A notice of termination is enclosed.

A. Mr. Sheen’s Deteriorating Condition And Escalating Erratic Conduct.

Your letters paint a picture of Mr. Sheen’s condition and conduct that has no connection to reality. Let us set the record straight.

The need to suspend and now to terminate Mr. Sheen’s agreement is not a step taken lightly.

However, the situation took a dramatic turn for the worse in January and February of this year, when Mr. Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition prevented him from performing his essential duties and so undermined the ability of Warner Bros. and Mr. Lorre to produce the Show that suspension and termination were required. As explained below, this inability to perform the essential duties of his position included Mr. Sheen’s physical appearance, inability to deliver lines, inability to collaborate creatively with staff and crew, inability to work with the executive producers, inflammatory comments poisoning key working relationships, and frustration of the Show’s creative environment by the public spectacle of his self-inflicted disintegration.

You claim that Mr. Sheen was turning in “brilliant” performances during this time. Not true. As outtakes of the filming show, Mr. Sheen had difficulty remembering his lines and hitting his marks. His conduct and condition created substantial tensions on the set. Mr. Sheen conceded in one or more of his numerous recent interviews that he sometimes showed up to work after not having slept and needed to move his mark to accommodate his need to “lean” on something, for balance. These few examples all confirm Mr. Sheen’s rapid physical and mental deterioration resulting in a failure to perform his essential duties.

Warner executives and Mr. Lorre could see that Mr. Sheen’s drug and alcohol abuse was not only affecting his ability to work on the Show, but endangering his life. Mr. Lorre though that Mr. Sheen was on a life threatening descent and felt he could not continue to work on the Show while watching Mr. Sheen self-destruct. The vanity cards you cite (several of which Mr. Sheen himself approved) reflect Mr. Lorre’s growing concern and frustration with Mr. Sheen’s inability or unwillingness to acknowledge his serious problems and to seek help.

Mr. Sheen’s condition, statements and escalating destructive behavior caused Warner Bros. to conclude that production in the 2010-2011 season was untenable. Warner Bros. could not produce the Show when its lead actor had become demonstrably unstable—publicly lashing out with verbal abuse and overt threats to its executives and the creative voice of the Show, as well as destroying the already fragile relationships with key Show personnel that were indispensable to the creative process behind the Show’s success. Warner Bros. therefore suspended production for the 2010-2011 season.

B. Warner Bros. Has No Obligation To Pay Mr. Sheen For The Cancelled Episodes Under The Parties’ Agreement.

In any event, Warner Bros. is entitled to suspend Mr. Sheen’s employment under the Agreement due to his “Incapacity” under Section 12 of the Standard Terms and Conditions. “Incapacity” is defined in the Agreement as including (but not limited to) “any physical or mental disabilities, which due to the unique nature of Performer’s Obligations, are not subject to reasonable accommodation and which render Performer unable to perform the essential duties of Performer’s position . . . . “ Examples of Incapacity include, but are not limited to, “ . . . any material change in Performer’s appearance or other attributes.”

The facts establish that there was a serious material change in Mr. Sheen’s attributes that rendered him unwilling or unable to perform his essential duties. As the lead actor in a successful television comedy, Mr. Sheen’s essential duties encompass more than just showing up and delivering lines. One essential duty is working cooperatively and creatively with the other persons critical to the production. Mr. Sheen went from an actor who performed those duties to an individual whose self-destructive conduct resulted in his hospitalization, his inability to work at all for a period and the rapid erosion of the cooperative and creative process necessary to produce the Show.

Mr. Sheen’s condition, conduct, admissions and statements described above are clearly beyond the control of Warner Bros. and have substantially hampered, interrupted and interfered with its preparation and production of the Series. Indeed, Warner Bros.’ repeated attempts to persuade Mr. Sheen to seek help for his illness were either rejected by him and/or unsuccessful. Accordingly, he is not entitled to payment for the episodes cancelled due to his own conduct or condition.

C. Warner Bros. Is Entitled To Exercise Its Rights To Terminate The Agreement.

Also, your letter dated March 2, 2011 states that “there is no morals clause of any kind in the contract.” This is not correct. Section 19 of the Agreement provides in pertinent part:

“If Producer in its reasonable but good faith opinion believes Performer has committed an act which constitutes a felony offense involving moral turpitude under federal, state or local laws, or is indicted or convicted of any such offense, Producer shall have the right to delete the billing provided for in this Agreement from any broadcast or other uses which are thereafter made of the episode(s) in which Performer appears. In addition, to the extent such event interferes with Performer’s ability to fully and completely render all material services required hereunder or Producer’s ability to fully exploit the Series, Producer shall have the right to treat such act as a default under the applicable provisions hereof.”

There is ample evidence supporting Warner Bros. reasonable good faith opinion that Mr. Sheen has committed felony offenses involving moral turpitude (including but not limited to furnishing of cocaine to others as part of the self-destructive lifestyle he has described publicly) that have “interfere[d] with his ability to fully and completely render all material services required” under the Agreement.

Very truly yours,
John W. Spiegel"