Sitcom Hardball: A Beginner's Guide, By Charlie Sheen
You are currently the highest-paid actor per episode in America, which is quite a feat considering the criminal record and substance addiction that you still battle. Just last Christmas, you allegedly threatened your wife at knife point, and were charged with assault, criminal mischief and menacing -- a Yuletide allegation assortment that could result in three years of prison. Then, you halted production on your expensive sitcom to enter "pre"-rehab. Are you still with me? Your employer has remained supportive of you throughout this entire ordeal and wants to reward you with a $175,000 per episode raise. You take it, right? Wrong! Charlie Sheen is in prime negotiating territory. Read on for his helpful tips to landing a grotesque television paycheck.
· Know Your Value to the Network
Charlie Sheen might have been one of the worst husbands in 2009, but to CBS and Warner Bros., he is still one of their most valued partners. Even though Sheen's contract expires in a few months, Warner Bros. has a contract with CBS stipulating that Two and a Half Men, now in its seventh season, will continue production for another two years. Considering the show is consistently among the top five rated shows and stands to make Warner Bros. a ton of money in syndication, Charlie has the "upper hand" in this situation.
· Understand Your Studio's Obligation
The Wrap reports that Warner Bros. stands to lose money if Sheen leaves if the studio's deal with CBS "contains language giving the network an out if a key cast member such as Sheen were to leave. That's usually why studios try to lock up key talent in advance of long-term license fee deals with networks."
· Start That Rumor Mill!
A few "insiders" leaked the story to People yesterday, revealing that Sheen had told them that he was "just done" with the television grind.
· Don't Return Your Publicist's Calls
This inspires a frenzy among everyone working (earning a paycheck) off of you. They will work twice as hard to get you what you want.
· Mind Your Ps and Qs On Set
Arrive to set promptly and be extra-cooperative among cast and crew members during this time. Sheen reportedly finished filming the season's 21st episode last night.
· Take Reports About Your Opponent's Strategy with a Grain of Salt
Last night, TMZ reported that "sources directly connected" to the show were "laughing" at the possibility that Sheen would walk away from the Chuck Lorre series after Warner Bros. offered him $1 million per episode. But TMZ is owned and operated by Time Warner.
· Have a Back-Up Plan
This is the most important negotiating tool. If your opponent/employer understands that you don't need another two seasons on their show, they will be more apt to throw a few more hundred-thousand dollars per episode your direction. Warner Bros. just signed a syndication deal with FX that begins in September, so the actor will be making money off the series long after he stops showing up on set. Meanwhile, Sheen finished production on Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and is rumored to be considering getting back into film.
· Wait It Out
CBS will announce its new fall schedule on May 19 and could technically broker a deal as late as midnight that day. So hold tight, and maybe find a new hobby.