How Charlie's radio rant at bosses cost him his €1.3m-an-episode job
As Charlie Sheen continued to rant on, his bosses at Two And A Half Men seemed prepared to move on.
The network's decision to stop production of television's most popular sitcom this season -- and maybe for good -- has multimillion-dollar implications for CBS and producer Warner Bros. Tele-vision, but it's hardly fatal.
The remaining four episodes were scrapped on Thursday after Sheen called the show's executive producer Chuck Lorre a "contaminated little maggot".
Sheen's remarks were made on a radio programme and in a letter posted on the TMZ website. He kept it up on Friday, calling Lorre a clown and loser in text messages to ABC's Good Morning America and vowing to show up for work next week.
However, there won't be any work for him to do, as Sheen's erratic personal life may finally have killed a job that reportedly pays him $1.8m (f1.3m) an episode.
He's been hospitalised three times in three months, with the production put on hold in January after his most recent hospital stay following a night of frenzied partying. Taping was to resume next week, a plan that blew up Thursday.
"There comes a time when you say, 'Enough,'" said Jeffrey Stepakoff, a veteran television writer.
Sheen plays a hard-partying playboy in the series, which has been a durable performer for CBS for eight seasons. It has averaged 14.6m viewers this season and earns millions of dollars in syndication rights for its 177 episodes.
Sheen, in an interview on Friday on Fox radio, said he would fight any effort to not pay him for the balance of his contract, which runs through next season.
He questioned whether he would go back for a ninth season or not, calling it a "toxic environment."
Cancelling the show outright would eliminate the anchor series on CBS' popular Monday night line-up, with its 9pm replacement likely getting lower ratings.
However, since Two And A Half Men is a long-running hit with a highly paid cast and staff, CBS will almost certainly replace it with a show that's cheaper to put on, perhaps making up for the lost ad revenue, analysts say.
It's been widely thought that next season would be its last and it seems unlikely that CBS or Warners would want to continue the show without Sheen or choose another actor to replace him.
"CBS, of anybody, can absorb an issue like this, because they have bench strength," said Don Seamen, vice president and communications analysis for MPG North America.
"They have other shows that can fill the slot. If it was NBC, they would be more willing to look the other way."
Can Lorre look the other way at insulting remarks sent his way by the actor he cast in his series? If Two and a Half Men ends, it's hardly the end for Lorre, already one of the most successful producers in TV whose other shows include the CBS hits The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly.
"Chuck Lorre might just say, 'I can't work with this guy anymore,' and nobody would blame him," Seamen said.
Still, stranger things have happened in television.