Charlie Sheen Suit Update: Warner Moves to Put Case in Arbitration

“Two and a Half Men” producer’s attorney calls actor’s claims “recklessly false”

Last Updated: March 10, 2011 @ 6:57 PM

Update (6:41 p.m. PST)

Might Charlie Sheen's lawsuit against the producers of the show that fired him last week, "Two and a Half Men," be heard away from the media, in arbitration instead of a courtroom?

Could happen.

According to an individual with knowledge of the case, Warner Bros. has already successfully petitioned Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) to have Charlie Sheen's lawsuit against heard in that venue.

It's also likely that "Two and a Half Men" producer Chuck Lorre, who is also a defendant in Sheen's lawsuit, will also ask JAMS to handle his end of the case.

However, an individual close to the defendants' legal team suggests that it's too early to say for sure if the case will go to arbitration — the court will ultimately decide.

While Sheen's contract does contain an arbitration clause, Warner Bros. would have to ask the court for a referral to arbitration, and that is likely several weeks away.

Update (4:25 p.m. PST)

Chuck Lorre's attorney, Howard Weitzman, has issued a response to Charlie Sheen's $100 million lawsuit, calling it "recklessly false":

"The allegations in the complaint against Mr. Lorre are as recklessly false and unwarranted as Mr. Sheen's rantings to the media. These accusations are simply imaginary. This lawsuit is about a fantasy 'lottery' pay-day for Charlie Sheen. Chuck Lorre's concern has been and continues to be about Mr. Sheen's health."

Reported earlier:

Just days after his firing from "Two and a Half Men," Charlie Sheen sued his former employers for $100 million and damages, saying show creator Chuck Lorre's failure to produce scripts — and not his own problems — bear the blame for the show's shutdown for the season.

The lawsuit names Lorre and Warner Bros. TV, but not CBS, which airs the hit show. (Read the full complaint here.)

Though the suit says Sheen is suing on behalf of himself and the cast and crew, a Warner Bros. rep noted that no cast or crew are named as plaintiffs and there was no sign they had joined the suit.

Also read: Charlie Sheen's Termination Letter

In unusually personal and vitriolic language for a lawsuit, the complaint repeats Sheen's contention that Lorre was responsible for the show's cancellation for the season last month because he failed to produce new scripts while Sheen was in rehab.

It also argues that Lorre repeatedly mocked Sheen through a series of vanity cards at the end of his shows, and that Lorre had allowed men to "flourish" so he could focus on "Mike & Molly" and "The Big Bang Theory," shows for which he "has a better deal."

"Defendant Chuck Lorre, one of the richest men in television who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, believes himself to be so wealthy and powerful that he can unilaterally decide to take money away from the dedicated cast and crew of the popular television series 'Two and a Half Men'… in order to serve his own ego and self-interest, and make the star of the Series the scapegoat for Lorre's own conduct," the suit begins.

Lorre declined to comment Thursday.

Though Warner Bros., which produces the show, has agreed to pay the crew for four of the eight episodes cancelled this season because of the troubles with Sheen, the actor demands that it pay the crew and cast for all eight. He is also seeking payment for himself, which would come to about $16 million for the episodes. In all, he is asking for $100 million plus damages.

The series went on hiatus Jan. 28 with Sheen's announcement that he was entering rehab — which Lorre, Warner Bros., and CBS had urged him to do. Sheen has argued since Feb. 14 — which is proving to be a key date in the dispute — that he was ready to work.

On that day, according to the lawsuit, Sheen "attempted to return to the set in accordance with the agreed production schedule. However, he was informed that production could not proceed because Lorre had not supervised or arranged for production of shooting scripts."

Though he declined to address the specific allegations in the suit, Warner Bros. spokesman Paul McGuire told TheWrap on Thursday that there was no plan for shooting to resume Feb.14.

But Feb. 14 was also the date that Sheen's media rants began. In a call to "The Dan Patrick Show," he spoke as if it were a mystery to him why the show wasn't shooting again. He said he went back to work, but lost his voice banging on its stage door and yelling.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "I guess they're closed."

It was unclear why Sheen would have believed shooting was to resume Feb. 14. Just days before, in response to a comment by one of Sheen's attorney's that the actor might return to work by Feb. 21, a Warner Bros. representative told TheWrap that it wasn't holding Sheen to that date.

The show was to have gone back into production Feb. 28, but was cancelled for the season after Sheen repeatedly ripped his then-bosses in radio tirades. He was fired Monday after another series of TV and radio interviews in which he continued the criticisms and talked openly about his past drug use, including saying he used to smoke "seven-gram rocks" of cocaine.