Charlie Sheen landing in rehab leaves his hit show with a third of its eighth season unshot -- and some big holes for production companies Warner Bros. Television and broadcast network CBS to fill.
To make up for the loss of "Two and a Half Men," CBS on Monday ordered more episodes of "Rules of Engagement" and may order more episodes of the comedy "Mike & Molly," which follows "Two and a Half Men" on Mondays and earns $189,190 per ad buy, second only to "Men."
Warner Bros., meanwhile, plans to announce a decision soon about paying the cast, crew and writers who are also on hiatus while Sheen recovers. “We’re evaluating the situation and hope to come to a decision soon,” a studio insider told TheWrap.
The hiatus could be costly.
“You take a show that’s the top-rated comedy on network TV and then the top-rated show in syndication, that’s a pretty formidable combination to shut down production for,” Brad Adgate, senior VP of research at the New York-based Horizon Media, told TheWrap.
“Two and a Half Men” is poised to be a billion-dollar asset for Warner Bros., the studio that produces it. Still the most-watched comedy on television, averaging more than 13 million viewers per episode, "Men" earned CBS $114 million dollars in ad revenue in the first nine months of 2010 alone, according to Kantar Media.
The show fetches a network-high $206,722 per ad, according to Advertising Age.
“Two and a Half Men” has shot 16 of this season’s 24 episodes, and 14 of them have aired.
Addressing the financial hit, a CBS statement said the shutdown was “not material to CBS" and that it is “strong and deep with hit series; we're not reliant on one show.”
The network added, "The most important thing right now is that Charlie is seeking help. Any immediate programming or financial implications pale in comparison to his long-term health, safety and well being.”
Besides, as network officials also noted, with Sheen earning an industry-high $1.8 million per episode, the ratings threshold does drop a bit for CBS.
Network officials further noted that it could also show “Two and a Half Men” reruns, since they typically perform well.
Sheen joins a long list of celebrities -- Michael Jackson and Britney Spears among them -- who have stood atop their industries even while teetering from personal crises. Spears seems to have made a brave, laudable recovery; Jackson was in more danger than anyone realized.
TMZ reported Monday that the actor would undergo rehab at home -- the same home where the site said he partied last week with a porn star and ordered a designer suitcase of cocaine – because it was logistically easier than checking into a treatment center.
Sheen's publicist said in a statement Monday that no more information would be released about his client with Sheen's permission, citing privacy laws.
"I can say that all of us who know Charlie care about him very much," Stan Rosenfield said. "We will support him in any we can in this journey, beginning by respecting his privacy."