Ashton Kutcher vows to "work his (bleep) off" replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and Half Men
Looks like Michael Kelso is stepping in for Charlie Harper.
Ashton Kutcher, whose last steady sitcom gig was playing the dimwitted Kelso on Fox's That '70s Show, is the big name CBS found to take Charlie Sheen's place on Two and Half Men. The network officially announced the move today, after Kutcher broke the ice with a tweet asking "what's the square root of 6.25?" (answer: two and a half)
"I can't replace Charlie Sheen," Kutcher says in a quote included with CBS' press release, "but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!"
Reportedly, he'll work a lot cheaper than Sheen did, earning anywhere from $900,000 to $1-million per episode -- amounts which would be about half what the troubled original star made before Warner Bros. and CBS fired him.
Sheen was predictably harsh, telling TMZ: "Enjoy the show America. Enjoy seeing a 2.0 in the (ratings) demo every Monday, WB." His message: that the 18 to 49 viewers who made the show a success will leave.
But Kutcher is a big enough star and pop culture maven that early shows will produce a lot of curiosity seekers. The big question: What kind of character can executive producer Chuck Lorre create that could make up for the loss of his hit sitcom's central figure?
All we've seen Kutcher play on TV is lovable knuckleheads; will he return to the airheaded nice guy he played on 70s Show, or will we get a character more befitting the Hollywood player who produces reality TV stars and married one of the hottest actresses from the brat Pack?
All questions CBS will have to answer at least in part, as executives face the advertising community during next week's upfront -- that's the time when network TV begins to sell advertising for the fall. On Wednesday, CBS will unveil its schedule for next fall and, presumably, uncover a few tidbits about what Kutcher and Lorre might actually do when the show returns on September.
Best news of all for TV fans; this could be an important step toward turning Sheen into the kind of showbiz footnote who goes from headlining a dysfunctional live tour to getting the psychological help he so clearly and desperately needs.
CBS' press release follows:
ASHTON KUTCHER TO JOIN "TWO AND A HALF MEN"
CBS and Warner Bros. Television announced today that Ashton Kutcher will join the cast of the hit comedy, TWO AND A HALF MEN.
The multi-talented Kutcher, whose success spans film, television and social media, will join Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Holland Taylor, Marin Hinkle and Conchata Ferrell on the top-rated series. Production on the ninth season of the Emmy Award-nominated TWO AND A HALF MEN will begin this summer for broadcast on the CBS Television Network in the fall.
"I can't wait to get to work with this ridiculously talented 2.5 team and I believe we can fill the stage with laughter that will echo in viewers' homes," said Kutcher. "I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!"
"We are so lucky to have someone as talented, joyful and just plain remarkable as Ashton joining our family," said Chuck Lorre, creator and executive producer of TWO AND A HALF MEN. "Added to that is the deep sigh of relief knowing that our family stays together. If I was any happier, it'd be illegal."
"Ashton is a pop culture triple threat—film star, cutting-edge producer and a social media pioneer," said Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment. "He brings creativity, energy and personality to everything he touches. We are thrilled to have him, and excited beyond words for what he brings to the next season of TWO AND A HALF MEN."
"Ashton Kutcher brings a new and distinctive comedic flavor to 'Two and a Half Men,'" said Peter Roth, President, Warner Bros. Television. "He is a big-time talent whose unique style will blend seamlessly with Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones and the rest of this terrific ensemble. We look forward to a great future for this revamped and reenergized show, helmed as always by the extraordinary Chuck Lorre, whose creative skills and consummate professionalism make him the best in the business."
Ashton Kutcher is an actor/producer and co-founder of Katalyst, a new breed of media company that creates original digital media, television and film properties. Katalyst film credits include The Butterfly Effect, Guess Who, Spread and Killers. For television, Kutcher has served as co-creator and producer of MTV's hit series Punk'd, and The CW's reality series Beauty and the Geek and True Beauty.
Kutcher first gained recognition as Michael Kelso on the Fox/Carsey Werner hit comedy series, "That 70's Show," which aired for eight seasons. Kutcher went on to star in a variety of box office hits on the big screen, including What Happens In Vegas with Cameron Diaz, A Lot Like Love with Amanda Peet, Valentine's Day, No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman, The Guardian with Kevin Costner, and the cult hit, Dude, Where's My Car. Kutcher stars next in Garry Marshall's film, New Year's Eve, out in December 2011.