CBS and Warner Bros. Television announced on Friday that Ashton Kutcher will join the cast of the hit comedy “Two and a Half Men” next fall.
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 9th 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. Kutcher had earlier hinted at the new role on Twitter, writing: “What’s the square root of 6.25?’ The answer is two and a half.
“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,” he added.
For his part, Charlie Sheen told TMZ that “Two and a Half Men” will fail without him, saying: “Kutcher is a sweetheart and a brilliant comedic performer. Oh, wait, so am I!
“Enjoy planet Chuck, Ashton,” he added, referring to the show’s creator and his nemesis, Chuck Lorre. “There is no air, laughter, loyalty, or love there.”
He also predicted a steep drop in the ratings, adding: “Enjoy the show America. Enjoy seeing a 2.0 in the demo every Monday, WB.”
But Jon Cryer, who plays Alan Harper on the hit show, expressed his happiness about the Kutcher joining the cast. “I’m jazzed about the news this morning that Two and a Half Men is coming back! For all the rest of the cast and crew I’m sure they are equally excited,” he said in a statement to People magazine.
“Ashton is an extraordinarily talented guy, and his presence will be an asset to our show.” He also added in a little joke for good measure: “We are old friends from our male modelling days, and we’re both looking forward to being judged for our comedic artistry, as opposed to our exceptional physical beauty.”
But he also took time to thank his former co-star, Sheen. “‘I want to express my enormous gratitude to Charlie Sheen for eight great seasons,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done together, and I will miss him. But I’m also looking forward to this new beginning,” he added.
The Wall Street Journal reports Kutcher will earn $1 million per episode, however it is unclear if that includes a percentage of the back-end profits from reruns. The salary is less than Sheen’s, who earned $2 million per episode.
There was pressure to get a deal with Kutcher done, with CBS presenting its autumn line-up to advertisers in New York next Wednesday.
Kutcher first gained recognition as Michael Kelso on the hit TV comedy “That 70’s Show,” which aired for eight seasons. He went on to star in a variety of movies, including “What Happens in Vegas” with Cameron Diaz and the recent “No Strings Attached” with Natalie Portman.
Warner and CBS have been shopping for a name actor who could keep the highly-lucrative sitcom afloat without Sheen. Within recent days, negotiations with Hugh Grant fell apart because of reported creative differences.
“With 6.7 million Twitter followers and a sizable following on Facebook, Kutcher is one of the most socially connected celebrities in the entertainment business,” writes Mashable’s Christina Warren. “The big question now that he has joined the show is, what impact will his social media presence have on the show’s ratings?”
Kutcher’s effort to use social media to boost “The Beautiful Life,” which he produced for the CW network, proved lacklustre – the 2009 series, a venture between CBS and Warner Bros, was cancelled after just two episodes.
It has been more than two months since Warner fired Sheen in the show’s eighth season, a move that followed the hard-living actor’s bouts of wild partying, repeated hospital admissions and a bitter media campaign against his studio bosses who shut down production.
“Two and a Half Men” is produced by Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. and The Tannenbaum Company in association with Warner Bros. Television. Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn are the series’ creators. [CBS via Daily Mail (UK), Mashable and CS Monitor]