Warner Bros. TV Sues CBS Over ‘Two and a Half Men’

Dec 24, 2008  •  Post A Comment

What do you get the network that has everything? A crisp new suit.
Just in time for Christmas comes a lawsuit pitting Warner Bros. Television against CBS. The studio on Tuesday filed suit in California Superior Court in Los Angeles County alleging the network owes it more than $49 million in return for WBTV’s deficit financing of the first four seasons of hit series “Two and a Half Men.”
CBS issued a statement saying, “Wow, I wonder what they got the other networks for Christmas.”
Spokesmen for Warner Bros. TV declined to comment.
The filing said Warner Bros. agreed to a four-year commitment to produce “Men” for a fee of $750,000 per episode in the freshman season with “modest” increases in seasons two, three and four. That was despite the fact that the early seasons’ average cost of production to the studio was $1,219,894 per episode.
Warner Bros. said a subsequent agreement called for CBS to get a break on the licensing fee for seasons five and six but to reimburse the studio for some or all of the alleged $61,097,418 in production deficits in the earlier seasons, depending on the success of “Men.”
The sitcom quickly became the only unqualified breakout hit on a broadcast network since it debuted six seasons ago and is the No. 1 comedy on TV.
Warner Bros.’ suit said the deal involving seasons had been worked out on the phone and spelled out while the “Men” pilot was still in production in 2003 and CBS “realized the new program had the makings of a hit.”
According to Warner Bros., based on “Men’s” ranking among the top 15 shows among 18- to 49-year-olds for the 2007-08 season, the studio is entitled to recoup 50% of its production deficit upon order of a fifth season and 25% upon order of a sixth season.
The studio said CBS has not made those payments or a premium it had agreed to. Also, it said CBS has claimed there was an 18-49 threshold, not specified in the suit, in seasons five and six in order for the deficit make-good to be triggered.

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