One side in the ongoing battle between Charlie Sheen and the companies that produce his hit sitcom finally blinked on Monday.
"After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen’s services on "Two and a Half Men" effective immediately," the company announced in a statement.
A source familiar with the decision to terminate Sheen’s contract said that Sheen was informed of the news, “shortly before” the statement was released, at approximately 4:30 p.m. ET. At approximately 4 ET, Sheen tweeted, “#winning.”
"This is very good news," TMZ.com quoted the actor as saying. "They continue to be in breach, like so many whales. It is a big day of gladness at the Sober Valley Lodge because now I can take all of the bazillions, never have to look at whatshisc--k again and I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension."
In a text to The Associated Press, Sheen responded, with the F-word and "They lose," followed by the word "Trolls." Asked if he planned to sue, Sheen texted back, "Big." As for his next move, Sheen texted, "A big one."
Sheen told "Access Hollywood's" Billy Bush that he wasn't told of the firing in person, but electronically. "I got a text or something," Sheen said. "Here's another thing -- these guys are such yellow cockroaches that they didn't even have the decency to call me."
The actor blamed his firing not on his recent interviews, but on his bosses. "I guess if you can't process a guy, or realize his value, you must terminate him," Sheen told Bush. He also said that he plans to move forward with legal action against his former bosses for breach of contract.
"It's so juvenile. It is the work of infants," he said. "It is the work of silly infants and it's just -- if this is what it had to come to, to get me out of those silly shirts, then so be it. So maybe I'll wear one, just on the final day when I go and remove all of their bazillions."
A call to Sheen's attorney, Marty Singer, for comment was not immediately returned.
TMZ.com posted an 11-page letter reportedly sent by Warner Bros. to Singer. The letter laid out Sheen's troubles over the past months and states "there is ample evidence" that Sheen "has committed felony offenses ... including but not limited to furnishing of cocaine to others as part of the self-destructive lifestyle he has described publicly."
In an interview on TODAY Feb. 28, Sheen insisted that the drug- and alcohol-fueled behavior he described as “epic” never interfered with his work on “Men,” and that despite all the headlines, all his bosses saw when he showed up on the set was “a guy hitting every mark, nailing every line, every joke, with a full house screaming.” He claimed he never missed a day’s shooting: “Not a day that cost anybody any money,” he said. “I missed practice. We’re talking about practice ... practice is for amateurs, you know?”
The Warner Bros. letter denies Sheen's claims that he has turned in "brilliant" performances on the hit sitcom. "Not true," the letter reads. "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 show." The letter went on to say Sheen would come to work without having slept the night before and would need scenes to be reorganized so he could lean on furniture to keep his balance.
The letter also praises Sheen's nemesis, show creator Chuck Lorre, saying "Lorre is a co-creator of the show, its head writer and creative heart. ... (Lorre is) one of only three people whose failure to render services can reduce the number of guaranteed episodes." It noted that Sheen has called Lorre a "turd" and a "clown," among other names, and appears to have mocked his Jewish heritage by calling him by his Hebrew name, "Chaim Levine."
It goes on to say "(Sheen) is not entitled to payment for the episodes cancelled due to his own conduct or condition" and notes that per contract, the dispute must be submitted to arbitration.
As for the future of “Two and a Half Men” and whether it will go on without Sheen, a rep for Warner Bros. tells TODAY.com, “No decision has been made about the future of the show.” Sheen had a contract with the show that runs through to the end of the 2012 TV season.
CBS halted production on the hit show Feb. 24, pulling the plug on the season’s scheduled four remaining episodes. Earlier that day, Sheen — the highest paid actor on U.S. television — had called into a nationally syndicated radio show to attack the program’s producers and say it couldn’t survive without him.
Can he be replaced?
While Sheen's text to AP suggested his next major role could be that of plaintiff in a lawsuit, the immediate question for Warner and CBS was whether to keep the show alive by bringing in a new cast member to join Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones — the one-and-a-half men left.
Shows have replaced stars before and lived to fight for ratings another day. When Valerie Harper left "Valerie" after the 1986-87 season in a dispute with producers, the show was renamed "The Hogan Family," Sandy Duncan was brought in to play a new character and the sitcom continued until 1991.
Drew Carey, who starred in and co-created "The Drew Carey Show," was asked about the possibility recently, before Sheen's firing.
"All you have to do is bring in someone you can plug into a Charlie Sheen-like character and deliver those kinds of lines. There are 100 actors who could do it," said Carey, host of "The Price Is Right."
Carey said he wasn't dismissing Sheen's comedic talent and acknowledged that ratings might suffer if viewers are reluctant to accept a new actor in a new role. But Holland Taylor, who plays Sheen's mother, called him "the brand of the show" in an interview last summer.
The studio, however, could save money by paying the substitute far less than Sheen's salary and extend the life of the lucrative series by another season or two.
Sheen had emerged from a home rehab stint bent on winning the hearts and minds of viewers, radio listeners, web users and everyone else who would listen or tune in.
Sheen’s longtime publicist, Stan Rosenfield, resigned on Feb. 28 after the actor gave a live interview to TMZ.com in which he seemed to suggest Rosenfield lied to cover up for Sheen.
On his TODAY appearance, Sheen said CBS was “trying to destroy my family.” He demanded a raise from approximately $2 million to $3 million per episode to return to the show.
Also on TODAY, Sheen said he was owed an apology by CBS: “A big one. While licking my feet.”