Too much brand power at the top is dangerous for Two and a Half Men

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Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper in Two and a Half Men

 Too much brand power at the top is dangerous.  Apple, Inc. is a good example.  The stock recently dropped after CEO Steve Jobs announced he was leaving the company indefinitely, again, to deal with health problems.  Another instance is former HP head honcho Mark Hurd, who abruptly resigned as CEO last year amid a firestorm of controversy involving actress-turned-marketing consultant Jodi Fisher, causing the company stock to drop by as much as eight percent in the aftermath.

CEOs and celebrities however usually are judged by different standards.  Troubled entertainers usually call attention to themselves, resulting in higher box office sales primarily because moviegoers want to see what they’ll do next. 

People will want to watch hit comedy Two and a Half Men if it returns next season.  Not only because it’s a funny show, but also to follow the Charlie Sheen drama.  CBS and Warner Bros. this past week canceled the #1 comedy for the rest of the season after Sheen’s public tirades toward the show’s executive producer Chuck Lorre.  Among other crude remarks bordering on anti-Semitism, Sheen reportedly challenged Lorre to an octagon ultimate fighting match.  

These antics make great headlines, and it appears that Sheen is not thinking rationally.   Be that as it may, only 16 episodes aired this year, eight short of the full 24.  That’s $16 million in lost salary for Sheen, not to mention smaller paychecks for the show’s co-stars and hundreds of staffers.   

The average person probably has little sympathy for anyone making $2 million a week, especially in today’s troubled economy with such high unemployment.  There’s hundreds of millions of dollars at stake however.  Two and a Half Men anchors several other comedies that air every Monday night, creating a potential economic snafu for CBS.   

The question at hand is can Two and a Half Men be successful without Charlie Sheen?  The short answer is that everyone is replaceable.  Think back when Sheen replaced Michal J. Fox in Spin City to some success.  All shows have their run.  Seinfeld, Friends and Cheers are just a few of several long-standing hit comedies.  Two and a Half Men already have 177 shows in the bag after eight seasons, a huge milestone with lots of content for syndication. 

Relying on one person either in the business world or entertainment industry can put any organization at risk.  The gist about Two and a Half Men is that the show pokes fun of Sheen’s real-life persona.  Ironically, this latest go-around makes for more funny episodes.  The challenge now for the show’s producers is to evolve the Two and a Half Men brand beyond Sheen, a feat easier said than done.  But that’s entertainment and we’ll all be watching.

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