Saturday, February 26, 2011

“Two And A Half Men” Season Gets Canceled - What Happens To The Crew?

Broadcast Union News: Corporate executives who run their companies into bankruptcy get bailed out with taxes paid by the same working people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by those same executive's greed. Highly compensated movie and TV stars can reek the same sort of havoc on the hard working people whose incomes are seriously effected by the behavior of those key actors.

Last Thursday, CBS pulled the plug on the remainder of the current season of “Two and a Half Men” following the latest in series of outrageous radio rants by actor Charlie Sheen.

Following the cancellation announcement, Charlie vowed to fight any attempt by CBS/Warner Bros. to withhold his $ 1.2 Million per episode salary for each of the canceled “Two and a Half Men” episodes.

As for his co-stars and crew, now facing unemployment as a result of Sheen's erratic behavior, Charlie said to “be patient.”

How much if anything the show's cast will receive is also uncertain at the moment. The regulars on the show have a 13-episode guarantee that has already been met, so, by invoking the force majeure clause in their contracts, the studio is not obligated to pay them for the canceled episodes.

“Be focused,” Charlie advised. “We are at war and there are ways to deal with these clowns and take all their money.” Easy for him to say, Sheen's “Two and a Half Men” contract nets him $27 million dollars annually.

The $350,000 per episode it costs to pay the 300 union represented writers, directors, ADs, script supervisors, camera crews, grips, set decorators, prop masters, electricians, painters, costumers, and crafts services folk who help produce an episode of “Two and a Half Men” each week is about one third the per episode fee paid to Charlie Sheen.

One of the key crew members on the set of “Two and a Half Men” told Deadline Hollywood, "We are really pissed. We don't get paid, if we don't work. So, if he's off getting rehabbed, or porn-o-ing, or whatever, we're screwed."

When contacted by Access Hollywood on Friday, a representative of Warner Bros., which produces the hit sitcom, had no comment regarding Charlie’s salary demands nor the alleged pay loss for the crew The studio is under no obligation to compensate the workers whenever “Two and a Half Men" is dark.

A source close to “Two and a Half Men” told on Friday that the show’s crew will not be completely out of a job now that their show has been canceled for the rest of the season, many of the crew will continue to work on Chuck Lorre’s other Warner Bros./CBS sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory.”

The “Two and a Half Men” IATSE, DGA, and WGA represented production crew will still suffer a large pay cut of about 35 percent in going from two shows to one, according to the same Warner Bros. insider.

"Two And A Half Men" earned CBS $114 million dollars in ad revenue in the first nine months of 2010 alone, according to Kantar Media. It also collects a network-high $206,722 per 30 second commercial, reports Advertising Age.

If the show can't return after this shortened season, it will still have a long life in re-runs and remain a cash cow. Warner Bros. still retains the syndication rights, and the show is watched almost as much in syndication each week as it is in prime-time.

Writers at "Two And A Half Men"
Ratings for the show stay strong even in reruns. New episodes have averaged 14.2 million viewers this season, compared to 10.6 million for reruns. This week's repeat scored 11.5 million viewers, more than most shows do with a new episode.

"Great would be an understatement," said one studio insider asked to describe the show's success, who said the show remains on-track to be a billion-dollar asset for Warner Bros. "This is one of the most successful sitcoms in the history of television."

While actors, writers and directors receive residual payments each time an episode airs, none of the crew that builds the sets, costumes, and props, lights and shoots the show, edits and plays the show to air shares in the revenue from reruns.

The bottom line is that much like the multi-million dollar a year executives at banks, brokerage firms, and major multi-national corporations who remain relatively unaffected by the economic devastation resulting from bad, short-sighted decisions which cause irreparable harm to their suppliers, customers, and employees, the highly compensated stars of movies and TV don't take responsibility, nor bear the brunt of the fallout from their bad choices.

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