CBS CEO Les Moonves addressed the controversy surrounding Angus T. Jones of "Two and a Half Men" at an industry breakfast hosted by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
"We took this boy [Jones] who started with us when he was eight years old, and it seems to be what happens with child stars over the course of time," Moonves said. "He's now making over $300,000 per week, which is not a bad salary for a 19-year-old kid, and he went on a religious channel and urged people not to watch the show because it was filth. By the way, he's still collecting his $300,000 per week."
Moonves was cagey about whether Jones still has a job. When asked if he was in the market for a new “half man,” Moonves replied, "We have other plans. I don't know what our status is with him.” He then joked, "After going through what we went through with Charlie Sheen, it's been a piece of cake."
In a widely seen online video, Jones called the CBS sitcom "filth" and urged people not to watch it. Explaining that the show was in conflict with his religious beliefs, Jones said, “People will see us and be like, 'I can be a Christian and be on a show like ‘Two and a Half Men.' You can't. You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't."
Jones later apologized. In a statement, he said, "Without qualification, I am grateful to and have the highest regard and respect for all of the wonderful people on 'Two and a Half Men' with whom I have worked and over the past 10 years who have become an extension of my family."
Moonves, who is married to television personality Julie Chen, has a history of playing a strong hand when it comes to decisions around CBS, even though his position as CEO puts him far above such matters. "I'm very involved," Moonves said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this year. "It's probably sometimes overbearing and annoying, but I know what I'm talking about." It was Moonves who made the decision to re-cast the female lead in "The Big Bang Theory" after the pilot was shot. He thought the show would benefit from a "girl next door" type that the audience could relate to. Turns out he was right. The show is a ratings monster.
Should Moonves decide to give Jones his walking papers, the young actor can take comfort that his former costar Charlie Sheen has offered him a role on his new show, "Anger Management." Sheen told ABC News, "My former nephew is welcome at the Goodson Anger Management home anytime."