Ending an eight-year relationship and perhaps one of TV's most lucrative sitcoms, Warner Bros. Television Monday fired Charlie Sheen for what it called "moral turpitude."
In a statement, the producer said, "After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen's services on 'Two and a Half Men' effective immediately." Neither Warner Bros. nor CBS had further comment, except to say that a decision on the show's future has not been made.
The firing came after Sheen posted an obscenity-filled rant on the live video website UStream on Sunday. However, it appeared Warner's decision had been under consideration for some time.
Portions of a letter the producer sent to Sheen's attorney were posted on TMZ and later released to other media outlets. The letter said, "Your client has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill. . . . There is ample evidence supporting Warner Bros. reasonable good faith opinion that Mr. Sheen has committed felony offenses involving moral turpitude (including but not limited to furnishing of cocaine to others as part of the self-destructive lifestyle he has described publicly) that have 'interfere[d] with his ability to fully and completely render all material services required' under the agreement."
The actor, who has used TV, radio and social media to create a big megaphone for himself, was not silent for long. In a text to The Associated Press, Sheen responded with an expletive and "They lose," followed by the word "Trolls."
Sheen is expected to sue for breach of contract. His lawyer, Marty Singer, told The Hollywood Reporter Monday that a lawsuit could be filed "this week [or] it could be in a little while. We're in no rush. But we will sue."
Sheen's contract reportedly does not have a "morals clause" - apparently the reason Warner Bros. cited "moral turpitude" relating to distribution of cocaine.
Bob Gumer, a veteran industry lawyer and adjunct professor of law at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., said Monday, "If they're going to go with 'moral turpitude' alleging a felony, it's clearly a stronger position than just saying he's sleeping with two women at the same time."
The firing also places a TV stalwart that has generated a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue in limbo. CBS and Warner Bros. could recast Sheen's role of Charlie Harper or - the more likely scenario - add a new character.
Production on "Two and a Half Men" was suspended Feb. 24 due to what the network and producer then called Sheen's "statements, conduct and condition."