CBS renews Two & a Half Men and Big Bang Theory

Rumors were swirling Monday night that CBS was about to give a mammoth renewal deal with Warner Bros. TV for comedies "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory."

The chatter is that "Men" will get a three-season order and "Big Bang" will get two-season deal. "Men" ranks as primetime's top-rated comedy and the 9 p.m. anchor of CBS' formidable Monday comedy block. "Big Bang" has blossomed into a bona fide hit in its sophomore season in the Monday lead off slot.

Both sitcoms are co-created and exec produced by Chuck Lorre. The renewal would take "Men" into its ninth season in 2011-12. "Big Bang" would be booked through its fourth season in 2010-11.

If true, the deal could potentially be a part of a settlement between Warner Bros. TV and CBS following their dispute over "Two and a Half Men's" production deficit and license fee. That scuffle led to a lawsuit in December.

Warner Bros. filed a $49 million suit against CBS late last year in Los Angeles Superior Court, arguing that the network refused to pay sums it had agreed to hand over to the studio if "Two and a Half Men" turned into a hit.

According to the suit, soon after the two sides agreed to a standard four-year license deal for the show, CBS asked Warner Bros. for options to renew the license for a fifth and sixth season, at just a "modest increase" in fee.

In exchange, Warner Bros. said CBS agreed to cover a portion of the show's first four seasons worth of deficits (the standard industry practice of "deficit recoupment"), and also agreed to increase the show's season five and six license fees. None of that happened, Warner Bros. claimed.

More recently, Warner Bros.' Bruce Rosenblum told the trade pub TV Week that a settlement was imminent.

"I think it's very reasonable to expect that we will find a lot of common ground to resolve that thing in the relatively near future," he told the paper last week.

Warner Bros. and CBS have clashed in recent years over various issues, but there's also an almost sibling-like bond between the two sides. CBS' top brass, from Leslie Moonves on down, are Warner Bros. alum and once worked side-by-side with Warner Bros.' top suits.

The two sides not only operate the CW network together, but Warner Bros. also supplies the Eye with several of its top shows. Beyond "Men" and "Bang," Warner Bros. TV also has a frosh hit drama at CBS in "The Mentalist," which is a cinch to be renewed for a sophomore year.

But there's no word yet if a "Mentalist" is part of the mega-renewal talks between CBS and Warner Bros. TV.

A CBS rep would not comment on the prospective deals late Monday, while a rep for Warner Bros. TV could not be reached.

Peter Oberth
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