The studio's claim was predicated on part of an agreement that was struck in 2003. If the show was picked for a fifth and sixth season --and hit certain ratings targets--then CBS would agree to pay Warner Bros. a portion of the deficits incurred during the first four years, as well as the premiums on the license fees in those fifth and six seasons.
Warner claims that in the first four years of the show, those deficits totaled some $61 million. Warner says the license fee it receives has been $750,000 an episode, which is just a little more than half the cost that Warner pays to produce an episode. The studio says that comes to $1,219,894 an episode.
Warner did say the license fee had some escalator price clauses in the agreement in recent years. But they still didn't cover the cost of production.
"Two and a Half Men" has seen strong ratings, especially this season, as part of CBS gains in overall viewers this fall. In one recent week, ending Dec. 7, "Men" grabbed 13.6 million viewers, the eighth-best-rated network show.
In recent years, Warner Bros. has financially benefited from the show's strong syndication airings.
CBS' statement concerning the lawsuit: "Wow, I wonder what they got the other networks for Christmas." A Warner Bros. spokesman had no comment.