LOS ANGELES — For the second year in a row, TV’s most-watched comedy is suffering a production halt as star Charlie Sheen checked himself back into an undisclosed rehab facility.

What was supposed to be the tail end of a scheduled hiatus on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” quickly spiraled into a public relations nightmare Friday, with no word on when or if the hit show would return this season. CBS has aired 14 episodes, with two more already filmed; that would leave eight episodes in jeopardy.

The 45-year-old actor was rushed to a Cedars Sinai hospital Thursday morning with severe abdominal pains, later described by Sheen’s publicist, Stan Rosenfield, as stemming from a hernia condition. He was released Thursday night and was initially expected to return to the set of the hit comedy series on Tuesday.

But by midday Friday, Rosenfield issued a statement saying the actor had entered rehab.

“He is most grateful to all who have expressed their concern,” Rosenfield said. “Mr. Sheen asks that his privacy be respected at this time …”

The turnabout served as yet another headache for executives at CBS and Warner Bros. Television, who scrambled in the wake of the news to place the show on a production hiatus. Just earlier this month, executives had reportedly tried to push Sheen back into rehab after gossip sites were filled with lurid tales of his alleged exploits with drugs and sex.

But TV’s highest-paid actor — who narrowly avoided jail time last year in a domestic violence case – balked at the intervention efforts and the studio and network are said to have backed down. A few days later, CBS’ entertainment president said the network had “a high level of concern” about its star.

On Friday, Warner Bros., CBS and Executive Producer Chuck Lorre, issued a joint statement: “We are profoundly concerned for his health and well-being, and support his decision.”

It’s all too familiar territory for Sheen, who reportedly earns nearly $2 million an episode, and his TV bosses. Last season, Sheen’s three-week stint in rehab — “as a preventative measure” — forced production to rearrange the work schedule and deliver two fewer episodes than planned. For the most part, though, Sheen’s behavior has had little impact on the show — mostly because his escapades have occurred during hiatus weeks.

Limbaugh’s ‘Chinese’ spurs call for apology

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rush Limbaugh’s imitation of the Chinese language during a recent speech made by Chinese President Hu Jintao has stirred a backlash among Asian-American lawmakers in California and nationally.

California state Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco, is leading a fight in demanding an apology from the radio talk show host for what he and others view as racist and derogatory remarks against the Chinese people.

In recent days, the state lawmaker has rallied civil rights groups in a boycott of companies like Pro Flowers, Sleep Train and Domino’s Pizza that advertise on Limbaugh’s national talk radio show.

“The comments that he made – the mimicking of the Chinese language – harkens back to when I was a little boy growing up in San Francisco and those were hard days, rather insensitive days,” Yee said in an interview Thursday. “You think you’ve arrived and all of a sudden get shot back to the reality that you’re a second-class citizen.”

During a Jan. 19 radio program, Limbaugh said there was no translation of the Chinese president’s speech during a visit to the White House.

He then launched into a 20-second-long imitation of the Chinese leader’s dialect.

The next day, Limbaugh said he “did a remarkable job” of imitating China’s president for someone who doesn’t know a language spoken by more than 1 billion people.

 A telephone call and e-mail to Limbaugh’s station operator Clear Channel Communications Inc. was not returned Thursday. Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks Inc. is home to Limbaugh, Jim Rome, Ryan Seacrest, Glenn Beck, Bob Costas and Sean Hannity.

An e-mail to Limbaugh’s show requesting comment was also not returned.