On 12-23 in LA, Warner Bros. Television filed a $49 million breach of contract lawsuit against CBS, claiming that the network has refused to pay previously agreed upon fees for airing the comedy “Two and a Half Men.”
The suit claims that as part of CBS’ renegotiated license agreement to air “Men” for a fifth and sixth season, CBS would pay a “lower-than-marketplace” fee in those seasons, but if the show was a hit CBS would reimburse Warner Bros. for certain losses. The suit says that during the first four seasons it showed a loss of over $61 million. Warner Bros. alleges CBS must pay the studio a deficit recoupment (reimbursement of some production costs), if the show reached specific ratings goals in its fourth season.
The company also claims in spite of the show being a big success and currently in season 6, CBS refuses to pay more than $49 million it is owed.
“CBS has reaped the benefits of the tremendous success of ‘Two and a Half Men” but wants to deny Warner Bros. the right to its agreed-upon share,” the suit said.
“Men” is currently the top TV comedy and the cornerstone of CBS’s Monday night lineup.
RBR/TVBR observation: This is pretty unusual in that two are business partners and co-owners of the CW network. Usually, this kind of dispute would be resolved outside of court—at the worst in arbitration. But with the economy the way it is today, $49 million is worth a suit.