Ashton Kutcher to Join “Two and a Half Men” as Sheen Replacement (UPDATED)
It now appears that Charlie Sheen will have no “DUH! Winning!” when it comes to the final fate of his ex-sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” The reason: producer Chuck Lorre has gotten one of the most popular media figures to replace Sheen, according to the Hollywood reporter. Ashton Kutcher should breathe new life into the series and cause a massive initial tune in. And, given Kutcher’s past record, a lot of the viewers will stay.
Ashton Kutcher appears to have won the Two and a Half Men sweepstakes.
[UPATE: Deadline Hollywood reports that it is now a “done deal.” See below.]
Two sources close to the deal-making tell The Hollywood Reporter that the actor is putting the final touches on a deal to replace Charlie Sheen as the star of TV’s No. 1 comedy. CBS, studio Warner Bros. and Kutcher’s reps at CAA declined to comment on the situation but a deal is said to be all but signed. The exact dollar figure he will be paid is not known but a source says Kutcher is getting a “huge payday” to join the hit sitcom.
The deal came together quickly in the wake of Hugh Grant passing on the opportunity to join the show. Now sources say Men creator Chuck Lorre has crafted a storyline to introduce Kutcher in a way that satisfies the network and studio. “It’s really funny,” says one source. “People are going to love it.”
Deadline Hollywood now reports:
We’ve just received word that negotiations have concluded, marking That ’70s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher’s return to television after a brief movie career. He is replacing Charlie Sheen in Two And A Half Men. The deal made sense for series producer Warner Bros which already had an overall with Kutcher’s Katalyst production banner. In fact, an hour later, Ashton announced he was joining the show by tweeting to his 6.7 million Twitter followers: “What’s the square root of 625?”
…..Co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre only wanted to continue the show “if he can find the right actor and get excited about that,” sources told Deadline. What mattered most to Lorre was that Sheen’s replacement be “somebody Chuck can work with” after butting heads with Charlie for years in a situation that escalated into a very public and nasty feud this spring.
….Because Kutcher is both a producer as well as an actor, he has a good reputation as a responsible showbiz professional. Sure, the producers’ top choice, Hugh Grant, would have been a swing for the fences — a real coup that could have bought the aging comedy series another 3 or 4 seasons on the air. By contrast, Ashton, whose movie career went from warm to ice cold in just a few years, is a solid base hit.
Twitter is already starting to reflect both sides in this show biz saga of a firing and a replacement. The New York Daily News:
Not only does Kutcher bring a young fan base to the CBS show, but also his 6.7 Twitter followers, a huge promotional boost for the show.
Kutcher isn’t commenting, other than a remark on Twitter.
“I’m starting to become convinced that people put my name in articles just to improve their SEO (search engine optimization) or hoping I’ll tweet it.”
Later, he Tweeted, “What’s the square root of 6.25″ – which is, of course, 2.5.”
Sheen’s camp also got involved in the Tweeting.
Rob Patterson, the guitarist who accompanied Sheen on his “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour after he was dumped from the show, said Kutcher’s wrong for the role.
“i don’t see (Kutcher) replacing (Sheen). show is based around Charlie’s life. Not a dude married to a chick 20 years older then him,” Patterson said.
That’s a pretty negative swipe — the kind of thing you’d hear a radio talk show host say about someone of an opposing party.
Look for big numbers for Kutcher’s debut and most likely a longer shelf-life and more $$$$$ for the show in after network syndication life than would have been the case if Sheen had stayed on.
Between network and post-network syndication, it should run for years with — and without — Charlie Sheen.
UPDATE: On the pay scale front, TMZ reports:
Sources tell TMZ, Charlie’s base pay on the show was $1.25 million an episode. We’ve learned Ashton will get more than half — more than $625,000 — but less than $900,000.
There are reports Charlie received upwards of $2 million an episode, but that includes his profit participation.
And TMZ has learned, CBS honcho Les Moonves has already signed off and he will announce the show is coming back for Season 9.
And sources say the remaining cast — including Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones — will be coming back.
Hey as someone who’s on a much lower rung of show biz in one of my other incarnations I’d take that inferior paycheck any old day..
TMZ also notes that Kutcher and Lorre got along extremely well. That is no small positive in show business. I used to work with an agent in Texas who said he dropped acts that had “a high PIA factor.” Pain in the ass. Sheen’s PIA score was high on Lorre’s scale, to be sure. If the production staff and the star are on the same wavelength it could help the show survive and perhaps thrive as I noted above.
SOME OTHER VIEWS:
I don’t care how you try to cut it(s head off on Christmas morning), there is no way being replaced by Ashton Kutcher constitutes even the wienerest form of #winning where everyone gets a ribbon just for trying. To put things in perspective, if someone looked at my work performance and said, “You know what? Ashton Kutcher could do this,” I’d put a bullet in my head before catatonic depression sets in and all I can do is communicate via an intricate system of pissing myself. “Wait, are two pisses yes, or a no? What if he’s slumped over trying to drown himself in it? Should I bring him a snack?”
Kutcher may not be the worst choice possible (actually, that would be Charlie Sheen) — he’s young and has a massive Twitter following that we’re sure CBS is hoping will make the transition to TV with the “That ’70s Show” alum. For Kutcher, this could be a career reviving move since his reception at the box office has been mixed.
Finding someone to replace Sheen is a big-money issue for both CBS, which wants to keep its highest-rated comedy going, and producer Warner Bros., which stands to make (or lose) piles of money in syndication if the show continues on strong footing. The way the show’s syndication deal is structured gives stations the right not to buy any episodes of “Two and a Half Men” that don’t feature Sheen. If stations do opt out, it would shorten the current contract’s term (which is set to expire in 2021) by one year.
But if Kutcher, Grant or whoever CBS and Warner Bros. hire for the show were to help keep its ratings strong, stations would presumably want to keep airing it, Sheen or no Sheen.
If you think about it, he will be a fabulous asset. He soared to fame in That 70?s Show and his personality and comedic timing are perfect for Two and A Half Men. It’s doubtful his character will be like Charlie’s but that doesn’t mean it will be less funny. True to the original timeline of May 18, a decision is all but inked.
This would be the best match possible. Kutcher is funny, good looking and seems relatively easy to deal with. As a matter of fact, he’s the complete opposite of Charlie Sheen. Perfect fit!
I like Ashton, but after hearing that Hugh Grant wasthisclose to getting the role up until two days ago, he is kind of a let down. Plus I don’t know how they are going to work him into the show and make it feel natural. He is too young to be the Harpers unknown brother because their father would’ve died way before he was born. I don’t think their mom Evelyn, could’ve hidden a pregnancy from her sons. Although they might’ve missed it because they were preoccupied with themselves. So I am not sure how he will fit into the show.
Now when it comes to him fitting in with the current cast (Chuck Lorre you better keep Holland Taylor and Conchata Ferrell and up their roles on the show), I think he is too young to star along side them. Granted he is married to a woman, who is 15 years his senior, so he might be prepared to work older people than himself. Although his new co-star Jon Cryer starred in his first movie No Small Affair with Demi Moore in 1984 back when Ashton was just 6 years old. That will be an awkward conversation.
So basically I am not loving his casting on the show, but I will probably give it a few chances to see how it all turns out.
Very interesting! Kutcher has a pretty big following, so this could work. I’m just glad they didn’t give in and let Sheen back on.
Bringing in Kutcher could be a brilliant move — or it could be the nail in the coffin for Two and a Half Men. On the one hand, Kutcher has potential to bring in a younger, different type of audience, and his attachment alone could be ratings gold when the show returns in the Fall. He’s also got plenty of sitcom experience under his belt thanks to That ’70s Show. That said, the story line would have to be tweaked, and it’s more than likely that loyal fans won’t find enough reason to tune in without Sheen.
Kutcher, of course, is a star of both the small and big screen, with long stints on ‘That 70’s Show’ (1998 – 2006) and ‘Punk’d’ (2003-07) and has a half dozen rom-com movies under his belt. He’d bring a gigantic constituency to the show (don’t forget, he’s the king of Tweeters, with 6.7 million followers).
Filling Sheen’s shoes is an important goal for WB, which has billions of dollars riding on the series (for original, syndication and cable deals), and it’s equally important to CBS, which charges $200,000 per 30-second spot in the sitcom, which is TV’s most-watched.
It looks like the powers that be at CBS and Two and a Half Men aren’t as stupid as Charlie Sheen thinks.
Good call CBS.
Can you even seen Kutcher playing this role? It totally doesn’t fit! What the hell happened to Rob Lowe? At least he can act and would be a decent casting for the part.
Kutcher, 33, shot to fame as the dim-witted stoner, Michael Kelso, in That 70s Show, which ended in 2006. The former model’s film career has been less than glittering, with a series of underwhelming comedies including Just Married, Guess Who, and Dude, Where’s My Car?
I am thinking Lorre was smart to go with Kutcher who seems happily married, comfortable with his life and most importantly, sane.