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ASHTON STEPS IN FOR CHARLIE

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 Friday. "I can't replace Charlie Sheen," Kutcher says in a quote included with CBS' press release, "but I'm going to work my a-- 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 - 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?

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