Warner Bros. Unveils Legal Strategy in Charlie Sheen Fight; Incapacity, Blown Lines at Issue
A letter dispatched to Charlie Sheen’s lawyer previews a key issue in the actor’s legal dispute over his firing from the hit television show Two and a Half Men.
Sheen has vowed to collected “bazillions” in damages for his firing after a series of erratic interviews and public statements in which he criticized producer Chuck Lorre and told CBS it should “apologize while licking my feet.”
The letter from Warner Bros. asserts that Sheen has “had difficulty remembering his lines and hitting his marks,” and the studio has film outtakes to prove it, the Wall Street Journal reports. Experts tell the publication that a claim that Sheen is having difficulty doing his job, if true, could prove crucial.
Warner Bros. argues in the letter that Sheen suffers from an incapacitated condition that allows the studio to declare a default, the Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. reports. The studio cites a broad force majeure clause that allows default if production of the show is “prevented from or hampered or interrupted or interfered with” due to the death, illness or “incapacity” of a cast member.
Entertainment lawyer Barry Peek tells Hollywood, Esq. that this line of reasoning could be successful, but it could be countered by the argument that Warner Bros. knew about Sheen’s troubles when it entered into the contract.
Previous stories have noted Sheen’s contract doesn’t have a “morals clause” that could be used to justify his firing. But it does have a provision that allows firing if a star commits felonies involving “moral turpitude.” Hollywood, Esq. quotes this contract language that is cited in the letter:
“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 …”
Another section of the contract that is “standard boilerplate” in performer contracts was also cited in the letter, according to Hollywood, Esq. It says that any publicity for the series shall be under the producer’s sole control.
Warner Bros. has submitted the dispute to arbitration, according to the Wall Street Journal.