Angus T. Jones Will Honor 'Two and a Half Men' Contract; Will Warner Bros. Let Him?
Angus T. Jones plans to fulfill his contractual obligations to Two and a Half Men and will exit the show after this season -- unless studio Warner Bros. Television asks him to leave earlier, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Jones, 19, apologized Tuesday for making incendiary comments about his hit CBS sitcom in a video posted online by the Fremont, Calif.-based Forerunner Christian Church. Jones called the show "filth," begged viewers to stop watching it and declared that he wants to quit. "You cannot be a true, God-fearing person and be on a television show like that," said Jones, who has starred on all 10 seasons of the ribald sitcom and makes about $350,000 an episode.
The appearance of the video Monday caught Men producers and Warner Bros. executives off guard, and series co-creator Chuck Lorre was said to have been furious. On Tuesday, Jones turned to publicist Eddie Michaels, who issued a statement three hours after being hired on behalf of the actor, apologizing to Lorre, Warner Bros. chief Peter Roth and his cast and crew. "I am grateful to and have the highest regard and respect for all of the wonderful people on Two and Half Men, with whom I have worked over the past 10 years and who have become an extension of my family," Jones said in the statement, which did not address his opposition to the racy content in the show.
Behind the scenes, Jones' reps at the Paradigm agency and his attorney Geoffry Oblath were said to be in discussions with Warner Bros. about the actor's statements and whether he wants to continue to work on the show or quit before his contract ends in May. (Warners insiders say they were surprised by the public statement.) But sources now say that despite Jones' professed belief that Men is "filth," he has decided he wants to stay with the sitcom and honor his deal. The only question now is whether Warner Bros. and Lorre will let him.
A Warner Bros. rep is declining comment on whether the studio or Lorre has accepted Jones' apology and will allow him to stay on Men. Michaels, Jones' publicist, tells THR that "conversations are ongoing about his future role on the show."
Jones is working under a one-year contract forged near the end of last season. At the time, CBS initially had wanted to renew the show for two additional seasons but ultimately got one year, partly because Jones wanted this to be his final season so he could attend college. His character joined the Army at the end of last season, so he does not appear in every episode of the current season 10, and he is not scheduled to appear in the final two episodes to be filmed before the holiday hiatus. "My character does Skype calls. He only does one-scene Skype calls," Jones told E! Online in October. "It's easy, but it's boring."
Jones' comments present a tricky personnel issue for Men producers. His jabs at the show likely would violate an anti-disparagement clause if one appears in his contract -- many TV talent deals contain language prohibiting actors from declaring war on their shows in the press -- but it's unlikely that Warner Bros. would abruptly fire the actor for the transgression, as it fired former Men star Charlie Sheen when his public behavior turned adversarial in 2011. That's an even less likely scenario here because of Jones' age (he's basically grown up on this volatile set) and because his comments were religious in nature. Employers tend to tread carefully when moves could be interpreted as being made in response to an employee expressing his or her religious beliefs.
The studio could wish to simply ride out Jones' contract, including him in the show in a diminished capacity and paying him what he's owed. That plan, however, could lead to some awkward moments when Jones returns to the set in early 2013 to perform alongside those whose work he has trashed.
Further complicating matters, it's far from clear whether Men will be back for an 11th season next fall, and both financial and creative considerations are in play. Despite dips from last year's boosted numbers when Ashton Kutcher replaced Sheen amid much fanfare, Men is averaging a formidable 3.7 rating this season among adults 18-to-49 (4.7 with Live+7), ranking it behind only Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory among comedies. (The show fetches $250,000 for a 30-second spot.) And overseas, Men remains a power, though ratings have begun to slip. In Australia, for instance, the once-dominant comedy now draws 460,000 to 700,000 viewers, compared with 700,000 to 1.2 million for Big Bang. On Canada's CTV, Men hovers below 3 million viewers, compared with 4.3 million for Big Bang.
Syndication deals for Men were renegotiated when Sheen was replaced, so the show isn't quite as lucrative for Warner Bros. as it once was, especially for how expensive it is to produce. Sources close to the show say Lorre -- in consultation with Warner Bros.' Bruce Rosenblum and CBS' Les Moonves -- ultimately will decide whether to pull the plug.
Scott Roxborough contributed to this report.