"Free at last! Free at last!" cried the embattled Charlie Sheen from a Beverly Hills rooftop, echoing Martin Luther King's famous address on the steps of the Lincoln memorial – an echo that might have reverberated louder had he not been waving a machete and pretending to drink from a bottle labelled "Tiger Blood".
Sheen, like King, is unlikely to make it to the promised land. The actor has finally – and rather inevitably – been sacked from his role in hit sitcom Two and a Half Men, in what his former employers Warner Bros vainly hope will mark an end to his unashamedly public plummet from grace.
"I got a text or something," Sheen told Access Hollywood. "Here's another thing – these guys are such yellow cockroaches that they didn't even have the decency to call me. I put 5 billion in their cheap suit pockets and another half a bil' in what's-his-cheese's pockets and this is the... respect I get? It's just deplorable and they should be ashamed of themselves.
"If this is what it has to come to, to get me out of those silly shirts, then so be it. So maybe I'll wear one, just on the final day when I go and remove all of their bazillions."
In fact, Sheen received considerably more than a text message. Warner Bros executives sent an 11-page letter to the actor's lawyer, citing the many clauses in Sheen's contract that he had violated and backing up their points with quotes attributed to Sheen during his recent media blitz.
The actor was earning a reported $2m (£1.2m) per episode for his work on the show. If it is axed, it may cost the network in the region of $250m – so unsurprisingly both sides are already gearing up for a legal battle.
The "silly shirts" refer to those worn by Sheen's character in the show. For now, the actor's only artistic output is through his Twitter feed and newly created YouTube channel "Sheen's Korner", on which his latest video appeared on Monday night.
It featured a dishevelled Sheen recording a telephone conversation with a man called Bob. "Everyone needs to hear my gold as it rolls out, not as its disappearing like so many magician's rabbits," he declares. "We are in the middle of a movement here, an odyssey of epic, epic proportions."
Sheen's "odyssey" began with extended binges of crack smoking and encounters with prostitutes, culminating in several extraordinary television interviews last week in which he insulted Two and a Half Men's creator and producer Chuck Lorre, a man he now frequently refers to as "whatshiscock".
The website TMZ claims that Sheen has a "Michael J. Fox clause" in his contract, meaning he may still get paid as long as the show is still in production, regardless of whether he appears in it or not. When Fox starred in Spin City, his contract included a similar clause. But in their lengthy legal letter, Warner Bros contested the validity of Sheen's clause.
The Warner Bros version
* Your client [Sheen] has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill.
* Mr Sheen has displayed an inability to perform the essential duties of his position including...[his] physical appearance, inability to deliver lines, inability to collaborate creatively with staff and crew, inability to work with the executive producers, inflammatory comments poisoning key working relationships, and frustration of the show's creative environment by the public spectacle of his self-inflicted disintegration.
* Mr Sheen recently declared he had self-healed his addictions by saying that he "blinked and cured [his] brain". No professional was willing to attest that Mr Sheen had self-treated, self-healed and self-cured his brain of his addiction problems.
* Days before production was to resume, Mr Sheen called a radio show; his conduct made clear he was unable to perform.Reuse content