Tag Archives: “Two and a Half Men”

New Comedy Talk Show for ‘Fernwood’ Pair Martin Mull and Fred Willard?

Martin Mull in "Oliver's Ghost" Hallmark Channel photo

Fans of the comedy shows “Fernwood 2 Night,” “Forever Fernwood” and “America2-Night,” get ready.  Martin Mull and Fred Willard, who kept audiences laughing with those classic nighttime talk show parodies, are in meetings about launching a new chat fest for public TV.  “Fred has agreed and I’ve agreed.  That would be in January,” reveals Mull.  He also lets us know, “I haven’t talked about this before.”

It’s so new, in fact, the two funny guys haven’t even decided whether they would do the Cleveland-based show as themselves or their Fernwood characters, Barth Gimble and Jerry Hubbard.  “It would be a ball,” says Mull.  “We’ll see if we get a groundswell of support.”

Mull certainly has a full plate even without the proposed Fernwood redux.   He’ll materialize Saturday (10/22) as the title specter on the Hallmark Channel’s  “Oliver’s Ghost,” with Rhea Perlman.   

“I was telling Teri Garr, first I played her young boyfriend, then her husband, and then she and I were grandparents.  What comes after grandparents?  Dead.  So it’s age-appropriate,” notesMull. 

His character is “a fellow whose unresolved issues with his daughter cause him to haunt this house.  Then he encounters this 11-year-old boy, and, there’s an idea there — it’s kind of about recognizing someone, with the metaphor of a ghost.”  He adds, “It’s my second movie for Hallmark and it was fun, a breeze.  You know going in, you’re not going to be doing Ibsen, but it’s nice to do something on television that’s not the Real Housewives of Somewhere.  It’s a movie.  It’s a good little film.” 

MEANWHILE: Mull is also continuing his role as Russell the pharmacist on “Two and a Half Men.”  At least, “They haven’t mentioned anything about my not coming back” — as the Ashton Kutcher, post-Charlie Sheen era continues along.  “I think they’re still kind of testing the water as to where I fit in….Chuck Lorre and I go way back, to ‘Roseanne,'”Mull reminds.  “He’s a very good friend, and it’s such a fun show to work on.  I’m also a fan of Ashton’s.  We did a movie called ‘Killers’ that came out a couple of years ago and I got to know him and admire him.  He’s a terrific actor.”   Still, he adds, “I think the bottom line of anything on television is the writing.  It’s the writers’ medium.”

Charlie Sheen Playing Mr. Nice Guy for a Reason, Of Course

Charlie Sheen

Duh!  Of course Charlie Sheen had ulterior motives for acting like a stand-up kind of guy at the Emmys and elsewhere the last week or so. 

He’s in the process of getting his “Anger Management” series set up — something that wasn’t about to happen if he ran about naked in hotel lobbies, hitting women and lobbing nasty remarks about his former employers.  With Deadline Hollywood’s Nellie Andreeva now reporting that showrunner Bruce Helford (“The Drew Carey Show,” “George Lopez”) has signed on for Sheen’s planned series for Lionsgate, it’s all too obvious.  Next, if his “Two and a Half Men” legal action is indeed settled, the way will be clear for the new show.   (Anybody want to take bets on whether Helford will live to regret this?)

Charlie Sheen Wrongful Termination Suits No Open and Shut Matter

Charlie Sheen

Do you think that Charlie Sheen’s condition as he rants against Warner Bros. TV and producer Chuck Lorre over radio, TV and internet makes the $100 million wrongful termination lawsuits his attorneys have filed into a lost cause?  Think again.

Leading entertainment litigator Mitchell Langberg notes that there is more to Sheen’s case than is apparent at first blush.  “In my experience, the studios in these employment things are at least mostly wrong.  You have artists who are artists, and studios that are businesses.  When something happens to make it personal on the business side, then it devolves into all kinds of issues.”

Langberg’s firm, Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck, has represented stars and companies through the years, so he’s well versed in both sides of cases involving high-profile entertainment firings.  The company represented Aaron Spelling back when Farrah Fawcett quit “Charlie’s Angels” — as well as Valerie Harper, back when she was fired from her own series.

” In this case, you have a studio that knew about it,” he says, referring to Sheen’s drug-fueled carousing.  “They even renegotiated with him after it was happening.   They can point to their morals clause or their felony clause, but it would appear that as long as the ratings were high and the money was rolling in, his behavior was acceptable to them.

Mitchell Langberg

“Now, it could be that it got so out of control it got to be a danger and was starting to effect the show,” continues Langberg.  “I’ve read the 11-page termination letter, where they talk about his missing his marks and leaning against things and such.  It could be that, or it could be that it got real personal.  The timing of when he was first suspended from the show was two days after Charlie made his first public comments against Chuck Lorre,” notes the attorney, referring to the “Two and a Half Men” creator/producer that Sheen termed “a clown” and “Chaim Levine.”

Langberg points out that reports of Sheen’s wild behavior are nothing new.  He’s “been on Howard Stern’s show and other shows making comments about prostitutes and drugs before now.  Did they weigh their morals clauses then?  What changed?  That is what the case is going to turn on  — whether or not they can prove that something different was effecting his peformance, or the safety of his performance happening.”

What happens if Charlie gets 5150’ed?  “If the family gets him committed, even temporarily, it will confirm what seems readily apparant to anybody who watches the internet or television.  And maybe it will make it more pursuasive for the studio,” Langberg observes.

“I remember sometime in the late ’90s, when Charlie first publicly had these  problems.  Martin made it ovious he would do whatever it took to save his son,” adds Langberg, referring to comments the elder Sheen made to  reporters as Charlie recovered from a 1998 drug overdose — “whatever he’s able to do.”

Chuck Lorre’s Had More Than His Share of Toxic Talents

Charlie Sheen

Why, Chuck Lorre, why? With Charlie Sheen’s series-ending public rant last week, Lorre has to have attained some sort of new Guinness world record for dealing with out-of-control, out-of-their-minds, self-destructive TV stars.

In case you missed it, Sheen referred to the “Two and a Half Men” creator as a “clown” whose “tin can” writing Sheen claimed to have been “effortlessly and magically converting…into pure gold” for nearly a decade.
Lorre’s used to unappreciative stars, to say the least. Consider: the esteemed writer/producer first whetted his sitcom chops working on “Roseanne” back in the early ’90s. Behind-the-scenes fights on that show became an everyday part of the job, as the star wrested more and more control out of creator Matt Williams’ hands and launched a frenzy of frequent firings. Before it was all over, tales of screaming tyrannical behavior emanated from the set regularly and Roseanne let it be known that she suffered from multiple personality disorder.


But that show was likely a better experience for Lorre than the first show he personally created – the 1993-1998 “Grace Under Fire,” starring Brett Butler. The comedian, once thought to be the female answer to Lenny Bruce, exhibited demonical diva ways including verbal abuse and sexual harassment, according to Lorre’s suit over profits from the sitcom. Her nastiness led staff, including writer Alan Ball, to talk about the show using terms such as “the gulag.” Lorre left.

Brett Butler

Butler confessed to painkiller addiction and the production became subject to her rehabs and relapses — but due to high ratings, the team carried on (sound familiar?) until at last ABC got fed up with Butler missing tapings and abruptly pulled the plug.

Then there was Cybill Shepherd, a decided improvement. Nevertheless, she was accused of megalomania during production of her “Cybill” show of 1995-1998. Whoever did what to whom, clearly, it wasn’t fun. Lorre was fired after five episodes despite creating the show. (A phalanx of other writers quit or were fired as well.)

First, though, Cybill had Lorre banned from the set, reportedly because she hated it when he and another producer, Jay Daniel, sat watching her performances on the monitor and critiquing them. Imagine producers doing such a thing!

Small wonder that in 2008, Lorre relished the assignment of cowriting a “CSI” episode entitled “Death of a Sitcom Diva.” As “CSI’s” Robert David Hall put it, “I think Chuck is working off his aggression in this script.”

By then, “Two and a Half Men” was already a long-standing hit, and it looked like taking a gamble on seemingly-reformed hellion Charlie Sheen was a good idea. Considering the show’s long running success, it still looks that way. But as every reader of pop psych tomes and women’s magazines knows, if you keep getting into the same kind of toxic relationships over and over again, you have to recognize that it’s your responsibility and make changes. Lorre’s apparently-harmonious “Big Bang Theory” and gratitude-infused “Mike and Molly” casts suggest he’s found the healthy truth: there are talented, funny, creative people out there who manage to do terrific work without all the pain and suffering.

Goodbye, Charlie Sheen. Ahh.

What Will it Take for Court of Public Opinion to Rule Against Charlie Sheen?

Charlie Sheen

Will Charlie Sheen wind up being sued for breach of contract if he’s broken a morals clause in his “Two and a Half Men” series agreement? Will Charlie Sheen have the book thrown at him in Colorado, where he faces charges stemming from a Christmas Day arrest for assault in Aspen involving his wife, Brooke Mueller? Will Charlie Sheen’s career be irrevocably damaged? The questions swirl in the wake of Sheen’s series production being put on hold last week, as he and Mueller go through their respective rehabs.

Here’s another question: What will it take for the court of public opinion to rule against Sheen, whose record of behavior is so horrendous that for many, the ONLY way he’d be welcomed into their living rooms is on TV?

Seriously, his ex-wife accused him just four years ago of pushing her down and threatening her, being addicted to gambling, seeking out prostitutes and frequently visiting child porn sites. Would you want this man hanging around your daughter?

And, it’s not just Denise Richards who told the world she was in fear of Sheen. You’ll recall that before he cleaned up his act and won public approbation and a career comeback in 2000 on “Spin City,” there was a nauseating parade of reports of his drugging and drinking and ugly episodes with women. There were photos published in 1997 of brutalized ex-girlfriend Brittany Ashland, who accused Sheen of smashing her face into a marble floor.

There was the pretzel logic explanation of how ex-fiancee Kelly Preston got shot in their bathroom in 1990 — when a gun fell out of the pocket of his pants that had been left on the floor, and it discharged a bullet that hit the toilet, then ricocheted into her arm. (As a head-scratcher, it’s up there with his current rehab being a “preventative measure.”) And, of course, there was Sheen’s role in the 1995 trial of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, where it was revealed that he’d spent $50,000-plus on hookers in less than two years.

Folks, forgiveness is a wonderful thing, but there’s something wrong with the fact that, reportedly earning more than $900,000 per episode, this is the highest-paid actor on TV.

SHE DID IT HER WAY: Sherry Stringfield was once dubbed “The Goodbye Girl” after walking away from the very successful TV shoSheery w, “E.R.,” Shright before it went into syndication, which would have made her a fortune. We caught up with the actress and asked if that stigma is still affecting her career today.

“I don’t think so. When I first left ‘E.R.,’ I was told by numerous people, ‘You’ll never work again.’ People say stuff, sure, but I don’t worry about what people think. I get on with what I need to do,” says the actress, who is busy auditioning during pilot season and is starring alongside Eric McCormack in the upcoming Lifetime movie “Who Is Clark Rockefeller,” premiering March 13.

The movie is based on a true story about a man in Boston who claimed to be the heir to the famous Rockefeller dynasty for over a decade and even fooled millionaire Sandra Boss, who became his wife. “She was a Stanford and Harvard graduate. This was a bright woman. You’re like, ‘What happened?’ I just found it very intriguing,” explains Stringfield, who played Boss.

“However, when you had a nice, decent childhood and went to good schools, you live in your world and assume the rest of the world is like that. I know I like to think people are just and honest, but it’s not always the case. Who would think someone’s lying to you about who they are? If someone told me they were a Kennedy, I’d be like, ‘Cool. Good for you.’ I wouldn’t think they were lying.”

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Nick Lachey branched out in the last year to create the MTV show “Taking the Stage,” and he tells us he and his brother Drew have a lot more ideas in store.

“We have a production company together, so we’re getting some ideas up and running. We’ve got some TV ideas in the works. It’s a busy time, but all good stuff,” says Lachey.

As far as his work in front of the cameras, “I always keep it open to do more acting. It’s pilot season, so I’m sure I’ll be out there doing some auditioning, but I’d actually like to branch out into more of the hosting stuff.”

When asked what his ideal hosting job would be, Lachey responds, “Sports have always been a huge passion of mine. I’d love to do a sports talk radio show or get involved in some capacity in the sports world. I think there may be some unfinished business there that I’ll want to explore.”

FUNNY THINGS: As Haley, the not-tremendously-bright teenage daughter on “Modern Family,” Sarah Hyland has drawn laughs. It was amusing watching her being convinced by her smarty pants younger sister (Ariel Winter) that she could recharge batteries by rubbing them on her forehead, for instance.

But, the 19-year-old beauty admits, “I think my biggest challenge on the show is just trying to keep up with all the adults. They’re all like standup comics in real life. I feel like the dullest person on the set. I have a dry humor, but I’m not very quick on my feet,” she says. However, “I’m watching them and learning. You know how they say ‘Practice makes perfect’? It all soaks into your being.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster