Ashton Kutcher on his Two and a Half Men gig: “like I won the lotto”

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Ashton Kutcher and his Jesus beard posed for a photocall at the CBS Upfronts with his costars. They’re promoting Ashton’s new role on Two in a Half Men, in which he’s stepping in for Charlie Sheen but is playing another character. I have to say he looks really good with Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones. Jones is 17 now and is growing up into such a cute young man. TV Guide has a good explanation of how Kutcher landed this gig, and they quote an analyst who says that while his addition might make the show popular in the short term, it’s uncertain whether Kutcher has staying power. I agree with that entirely, but I could be wrong. What’s more is that a lot of the names floated in the press as up for consideration for Charlie’s job, apart from Hugh Grant, have supposedly been wrong:

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It almost didn’t happen. After Sheen self-imploded and was fired from Two and a Half Men in March, the studio, network and Lorre began looking at ways to evolve the show. “From the beginning, Chuck had been keen on formulating a plan and a new character,” says one insider.

But the clock was ticking. Lorre and Co. aimed high. “They were going after movie stars,” a source says. Lorre was following the model of sitcom Spin City, which replaced star Michael J. Fox in 2000 with a film actor — coincidentally, Sheen.

Red herrings started appearing in the press: names such as Bob Saget, John Stamos and Jeremy Piven. “All the names speculated were totally wrong,” the source says. From the very beginning, Kutcher was on Lorre’s short list. The idea had big merits. He was a sitcom vet, having spent eight seasons on Fox’s That ’70s Show. Both he and Lorre got their first big career breaks inside venerable sitcom powerhouse Carsey-Werner, the studio behind That ’70s Show, as well as Roseanne, Cybill and Grace Under Fire (three shows where Lorre cut his teeth).

According to New York magazine’s website, Vulture, it was CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler who first broached the idea with Kutcher’s lawyer, her old friend Robert Offer. But rather than put their eggs in one basket, Lorre, CBS and Warner Bros. TV were pursuing different tracks with three actors, including Hugh Grant. The idea of Grant had its internal fans, and would have dramatically changed the direction of Two and a Half Men. Grant also might have avoided many direct comparisons to Sheen because of his completely different, self-deprecating acting style. But there were also insiders who felt that Kutcher made more sense, given his ease on a multicamera sitcom stage.

Ultimately, Grant passed. “He got cold feet at the last minute,” says one insider close to the talks, and Kutcher became a front-runner.

The actor also comes with serious social-media cred, having garnered nearly 7 million followers on Twitter. And his production company, Katalyst, is already set up at Warner Bros. TV’s Warner Horizon division. Before that, Katalyst was based at CBS TV Studios, so Kutcher has worked closely with both companies for years.

For Kutcher, the high-profile gig makes sense for other reasons: His film career has generated only so-so results. This winter’s No Strings Attached garnered a decent $71 million at the box office, but last summer’s Killers was a flop. Plus, the stakes are relatively low: If Two and a Half Men stays strong, he’s a hero. If not, viewers simply don’t want to watch without Sheen.

Kutcher will also become one of the highest-paid stars in prime time, pulling down between $625,000 and $700,000 an episode (Sheen was earning $1.3 million an episode). “Ashton knows it’s a good gig,” says one insider.

“I think it’s a really good idea,” adds a rival network executive. “He’s a guy that people like. I think people definitely will want to check it out.”

Media analyst Steve Sternberg believes a Kutcher-led Men will get big sampling early on, but he harbors doubt about its long-term health: “I’m not sure Ashton Kutcher is as popular as the media thinks,” he says. “His recent movies have not performed well…[but] it could just be that he’s best-suited for TV.”

In a statement, Kutcher said, “I’m going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people.” Lorre, meanwhile, called him “talented, joyful and just plain remarkable.”

[From TV Guide]

I wonder which other actor Lorre was considering for the part. Could it have been Rob Lowe as rumored? He would have also been a great choice. Ashton I’m kind of “meh” on. He does look superficially good here as part of the team, but all I have to do is remember any show or movie I’ve seen him in and I come back to reality. He’s a goofball, but maybe that will play well on television again.

At the upfronts, Ashton was very positive about his new job. He said “It’s awesome to be here. I could not be more excited. I never in my 13 years of show business received more e-mails and phone calls congratulating me for this job. It’s almost like I won the lotto. And I kind of did… I got the best job in show business and I’m excited about that.”

We’ll see how he feels about it in a year or two, but over $16 million a season has got to be nice for a guy who used to make just two to three sh*t movies a year.

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37 Responses to “Ashton Kutcher on his Two and a Half Men gig: “like I won the lotto””

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  1. Spanx says:

    I would have loved to see Rob Lowe do this instead of him, AK just annoys me. I always watched the show b/c i love the supporting cast but Im not sure I can take AK.
    Im wondering how long before Demi makes a guest appearance on there. Im sure she’s already picking out her bikini and touching up her PS to get ready for her walk on.

  2. devilgirl says:

    He won the lotto because he finally got a job.

  3. Quest says:

    To accentuate the positive: I love Angus T. Jones (he is funny) and Jon Cryer.

  4. Drew says:

    I give it one, maybe two seasons before this mediocrity is canceled. Terrible decision.

  5. Arvedia says:

    With the beard Ashton looks like Eric Bana. The same kind of mousy, narrow-chinned.

  6. arctic_blue says:

    To be properly named, the show does require someone to be cast in the half a man role

  7. mag says:

    Me’s thinks that they are trying tooooo hard to look happy and delighted to work together. Jon Cryer seems to have more of a nervous smile than happy. Angus’ smile looks more like “please like us again”. They do not look good together at all. AK is a bad choice. The funniest this show will be is the decision to cast AK on show.

  8. d says:

    Although I’m not a fan of Ashton himself, I did love him in That 70′s show and think he does have staying power. I’ve seen 2.5 men once and hated it. I will tune in to see if the suck level for me changes now that Ashton is on board.

    I love Hugh Grant and have had a two decade crush on Rob Lowe but think Ashton really is a good choice.

  9. Pitita says:

    The woman on Ashton’s left, is she a new character too?

  10. tanya says:

    “…like I won the lotto”?

    No. Shit. Sherlock.

  11. flourpot says:

    He always looks so dirty. And wth is he wearing? Cut your hair or at least put some product in it!

  12. Lauren says:

    Ashton has proven he is a fantastic comedic actor..just watch That 70′s show.. I like him much better than CS..and Ashton is married to Demi..wonder if she will be on the show too?

  13. Sue says:

    Ashton is a really bad choice Hugh Grant and Rob Lowe would have been better.

    I think the first couple of weeks of the new show the rating will be really high because people will tone in to see how Ashton does after that I see the rating dropping.

  14. someone says:

    Since hes coming in as a different character, and not actually replacing Charlie, it may have a chance..I will watch and see how it goes…

  15. NoFrank says:

    That stupid toothy grin on Angus Jones makes me want to smack him. He looks like a six-year-old that doesn’t want his picture taken at Christmas.

  16. bluhare says:

    #8 @mag?: Totally agree about the photo. First thing I thought when I saw it was the body language? Kutcher is leaning into Angus, while Cryer’s out there on his own with that stupid ass smile on his face.

    I’m thinking Cryer might be cryin into his bank account behind the scenes.

  17. Mika says:

    Rob Lowe already has a television show. It’s called Parks and Recreation, and it’s awesome.

    I would like to think that Rob is the kind of man who would turn down some shit sitcom like 2 1/2 Men and instead get paid more to work with talented writers and actually entertain people. His character on Parks and Rec is a delight and perfect for him.

  18. sharylmj says:

    I’m going to reserve judgement until I see an episode.. of course John Cryer is nervous… his cush job is on the line. I like Ashton Kutcher in most things he has done, so I’m going to give it a chance before I condemn it.

  19. mzjask says:

    meh. only time will tell. that said, i will be watching his first episode lol

  20. anonymoose says:

    hell yeah rob lowe would be a better choice! betty white would be a better choice than kutcher. with kutcher the show will tank and sheen will “win”. BOOOOooooo.

  21. alma says:

    he needs to shave his face and cut that hair!!!

  22. The Bobster says:

    The ratings will sink like a lead balloon.

    Meanwhile, it’s freaky listening to Alan Harper doing the voiceovers of the Wells Fargo commercials during the show. At least he found work.

  23. sandy#1 says:

    i hope it last for the sake of the other cast members, they deserved better, not to lose their jobs over charlie’s break down.

  24. lucy2 says:

    That’s the only reason I care that it’s continuing, all those people who work on the show get to keep their jobs. But I agree with the “he’s not as popular as they think” sentiment, because the response I saw all over was overwhelming negative.

    I feel bad for the kid, he grew up having to see the absolute worst side of show business, watching Sheen have to prop his drugged out ass up with set furniture to be able to film. Hopefully he learned from it and never goes down that path!

    “It’s called Parks and Recreation, and it’s awesome.” As awesome as a turkey leg wrapped in bacon! I LOVE P&R.

  25. Shoe_Lover says:

    As soon as I saw the she devils name (Nina Tassler) I knew this was going to be a mess. After all Nina Tassler is the person responsible for destroying Criminal Minds- possibly one of the best dramas on TV. Or it was before she started trying to fix something that wasn’t broken

  26. original kate says:

    why is this crapfest still on?

  27. KO says:

    “If not, viewers simply don’t want to watch without Sheen.”

    Have to disagree with the article there – they simply might not want to watch it with Kutcher.

  28. Dani says:

    I dont like AK, he always appears as a dumb guy, thats his thing…Jon Cryer is the dumb guy on the show, so I wonder what will AK position be?
    Without Charlie Sheen the show will collapse, even if they chose somebody else

  29. Crash2GO2 says:

    @KO: They were being tongue-in-cheek.

  30. Judy says:

    Looking at AK makes me want to vomit.

  31. Becca says:

    Why didn’t they just cancel this show? It’s terrible!

  32. Poopie says:

    I LOVE T 1/2 M !
    BUT :::: will NOT watch it as i cannot STAND ASSTON K. he is a loser no talent smart ass; i can’t imagine ANY kind of character that he would play that would make the show watchable.

  33. Stacia says:

    Hope he does well. At least he seems humble and greteful for the gig and does not have the ego that Charlie has.

  34. ThisIsAJoke says:

    Aren’t they killing Charlie’s character? The show will start with a bummer and then have Kutcher which is an even bigger bummer. THIS SHOW WILL BOMB.

  35. SAYS WHO says:

    Give it a chance…
    SHEESH!!

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