By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Charlie Sheen was fired on Monday from his top-rated comedy "Two and A Half Men" because of his "dangerously self-destructive conduct," difficulty at work and inflammatory comments to producers, TV executives said.
"After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen's services on 'Two and a Half Men' effective immediately," program makers Warner Bros. Television said in a statement.
Sheen, 45, is the highest-paid actor on U.S. television and "Two and A Half Men" is the most popular comedy for CBS.
But the remainder of the current season was canceled 10 days ago after Sheen called producer and co-creator Chuck Lorre a "clown" and a "stupid, stupid little man."
The actor followed up with a week of rambling, sometimes manic, TV and radio interviews boasting that he is "winning" and has "tiger blood", while insisting he is drug-free and sober after a period of rehabilitation in January.
Sheen, who had a contract through May 2012, shrugged off Monday's firing with a mixture of nonchalance and jibes.
"It is a big day of gladness at the Sober Valley Lodge because now I can take all of the bazillions, never have to look at whatshiscock again and I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension," Sheen said in a statement. His lawyers said they planned to sue Warner Bros. Television.
A spokesman for Warner Bros. Television said no decision had been made about the future of "Two and A Half Men." The comedy, in which Sheen plays a womanizing bachelor, is a huge generator of advertising revenue for CBS and makes millions in syndication rights for Warner Bros. Television.
Warner Bros. and CBS could decide to bring it back for another season, without Sheen.
In an 11-page letter, attorneys for Warner Bros. said Sheen was being fired because in recent months he had been forgetting lines, turning up late or missing rehearsals and made "comments poisoning key working relationships."
TV executives believed Sheen's drug and alcohol abuse was also "endangering his life". Despite repeated attempts, including a personal appeal in January by CBS chief executive Les Moonves, Sheen refused to enter a rehab facility for treatment, the letter said.
"Let us state the obvious," began the letter, obtained by TMZ.com. "Your client (Sheen) has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill."
Sheen's long-time publicist quit a week ago and Sheen's fellow cast and crew have been largely silent in the face of his bizarre tirades.
But the actor has found a huge popular following. He has attracted a record 2 million-plus Twitter followers in less than a week, and he hosted a live webcast on Saturday that attracted more than 100,000 viewers.
The actor was involved in a series of drug and alcohol-related incidents in 2010, and pleaded guilty in August to an assault on his now ex-wife.
Production on "Two and A Half Men" was shut down in late January after Sheen was hospitalized following a 36-hour cocaine-fueled party. He agreed to a form of rehab at home, but the Warner Bros. letter said he apparently fired his sobriety coach after just two weeks.
Audiences for "Two and a Half Men" have remained strong despite Sheen's rabble rousing. Original episodes attract about 14 million U.S. viewers a week, and some 10 million tune in to watch repeats.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Osterman)