Fates and Fortunes

The Daily Beast: At $825,000 an episode, Sheen is underpaid

4/06/2010 01:10:35 PM

SheenHere’s a story worth reading: The Daily Beast’s Peter Lauria reports that Charlie Sheen — overpaid as you may think he is –  actually deserves the raise he’s angling for.

Sheen is currently in negotiations with Warner Bros. to renew his contract for Two and a Half Men, with People magazine reporting last Friday that Sheen was ready to walk away from his $825,000 per episode contract. I think the LA Times’ Joe Flint and TMZ have it more correct, however: Sheen is negotiating in the press to force Warner Bros. to up him to $1.5 million an episode.

According to Lauria, Two and a Half Men can boast total revenues in (at least) the half-billion dollar range. Lauria is better at math than I am, but I (and Variety) have recently reported that the show earns $4 million per episode in syndication broadcast and cable license fees, which equals approximately $154 million for seven seasons of 22 episodes each (there have been more episodes in some seasons, so that’s a conservative estimate). Variety additionally reported that the show earns another $90 million annually in barter.

Lauria doesn’t have estimates for what CBS pays Warner Bros. in license fees, but $2 - $3 million an episode is probably a reasonable guess, adding another $44 million to $66 million annually to Warner’s take. The show does cost something to produce, however; above and beyond Sheen’s salary, there are the other actors, the producers and the crew, and plenty of production costs.

On the CBS side, Lauria estimates the show makes another $60 to $70 million annually in advertising revenues, plus provides the anchor that lifts the ratings for CBS’ entire Monday night line-up, starting with How I Met Your Mother and moving through The Big Bang Theory and CSI Miami.

It’s not exaggerating to say that without Sheen, there is no Two and a Half Men. With all that money on the table, at least two families to support, and mounting legal fees, is it any wonder Sheen wants a raise?

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