Television network CBS on Thursday canceled production of its top-rated comedy "Two and A Half Men" for the rest of the season after star Charlie Sheen unleashed an expletive-filled attack on the show's producer.
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The decision came days before Sheen, the highest-paid actor on U.S. television, was due to return to the set following his third stint in rehab in 12 months.
Production of "Two and a Half Men" was suspended in January when Sheen, 45, was persuaded to seek help after a wild 36-hour party at his home that ended with him being hospitalized.
In an interview on a syndicated radio program and in remarks to celebrity website TMZ.com, on Thursday Sheen called "Two and A Half Men" producer and co-creator Chuck Lorre a "charlatan (who) chose not to do his job," a "piece of s***" and a "stupid, stupid little man."
Sheen also belittled Alcoholics Anonymous and claimed he had cured himself "with my mind" after four weeks of drug and alcohol treatment at his home.
"Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen's statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of 'Two and a Half Men' for the remainder of the season," the network and the show's makers said in a statement.
Sheen swiftly fired back in an open letter, given to TMZ.com, referring again to Lorre in a derogatory fashion.
"I urge all my beautiful and loyal fans who embraced this show for almost a decade to walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable wrong," Sheen added.
Four of the final eight episodes for the current TV season, ending in May, already had been axed due to the hiatus.
"Two and a Half Men" is a huge money generator for the broadcaster and production company, and earlier this year the network said it was "highly concerned" about Sheen. CBS is a unit of CBS Corp and Warner Bros. Television is part of the Warner Bros unit of Time Warner Inc.
Throughout much of 2010, the actor was involved in a series of drug and alcohol-related incidents, and in August pleaded guilty to an assault on his now ex-wife.
But he signed up for two more seasons in May 2010, and got a pay raise that brought his salary to a reported $27.5 million a year for his role as hard-drinking womanizing bachelor Charlie Harper, which in many ways has mirrored his real life.
Sheen appeared to be tempting fate when he told the syndicated Alex Jones Show on the radio on Thursday that "I was told if I went on the attack, they would cancel the show."
He also made a dig at his producer's Jewish background, calling him "Chaim Levine." Lorre was born Charles Michael Levine. He could not be reached for comment.
In remarks later to TMZ.com, Sheen was quoted as saying of Lorre, "I violently hate Chaim Levine. He's a stupid, stupid little man ... that I'd never want to be like."
Audiences for "Two and a Half Men" have remained strong despite Sheen's well-publicized rabble rousing. The show attracts about 15 million U.S. viewers a week.