February 15, 2012 9:00am PT by Matthew Belloni
Warner Bros. Lawyers Send Cease-and-Desist Letter to Charlie Sheen (Exclusive)
This story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Warner Bros. isn’t quite over its bitter breakup with Charlie Sheen.
Lawyers for the Two and a Half Men studio, which in September settled Sheen’s $100 million wrongful termination lawsuit over his firing from the hit sitcom, have sent a cease and desist letter to the actor, the FX network and production company Debmar-Mercury demanding that they stop using Warners-owned photos in connection with his upcoming comedy Anger Management.
At least two shots of Sheen from his Men days—including one featuring the actor posed on a motorcycle—were included in a promotional publication distributed in January at the NATPE conference in Miami, where Sheen and his new partners were busy pitching the June debut of their show to domestic and international buyers.
Harmless mistake? Copyright infringement, says Warners (statutory damages can run $150,000 per infraction, according to federal law).
“That you are using Warner’s intellectual property for a commercial purpose – namely, to sell another show – is especially egregious,” studio lawyer Katherine Chilton wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “Please immediately cease and desist from using these photographs or any other intellectual property belonging to Warner.”
FX, Debmar-Mercury and Sheen attorney Marty Singer declined to comment, but a source close to Anger Management says the use of the Men images was inadvertent and occurred only because Sheen, who has been busy casting the show with writer-producer Bruce Helford, hasn’t had a chance to take new publicity photos.
“It won’t happen again,” says the source, meaning we likely won't see another nasty legal war.