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Power Lawyers 2011

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    Case of the Year: Charlie Sheen vs. Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre
    Joe Pugliese
    Charlie Sheen vs. Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre
    Martin Singer (Lavely & Singer), Howard Weitzman (Kinsella Weitzman), John Spiegel (Munger Tolles & Olson)

    "Surreal" doesn't begin to describe the $100 million legal battle between fired Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, showrunner Chuck Lorre and studio Warner Bros. For a few months, as the self-described warlock declared war on his former bosses, it felt like litigation over TV's No. 1 sitcom would play out exclusively through the media. The demands of the case have fallen hard on the seasoned Hollywood attorneys handling it, all of whom have known one another for years. "To me, there's no real difference, except for the publicity," says Spiegel, a former federal prosecutor who wrote the infamous letters countering Sheen's tirades. "I'm approaching it like I approach every trial: Tell the truth." Lorre attorney Weitzman is used to odd cases, having represented Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. "It's been interesting to read what's been written about this case, which, at times, is its own sitcom," he says. "Fiction becomes fact, outrageous behavior is glorified, and in some circles, losing is 'winning.' " As the case heads to private arbitration to determine whether Sheen breached his Men contract or Lorre and Warners conspired to improperly boot him from the show, Singer has become Sheen's de facto publicist. "There are so many crazy things my office gets," he says. "People wanting to sue over ridiculous claims or wanting to make business dealings with Charlie. People say, 'I met him 20 years ago, and he wanted to put me on his show.' "

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