Here it is — the new television season. Its opening night contained one of this fall’s most anticipated programs, the Season 9 premiere of CBS’ Two and a Half Men featuring its new star Ashton Kutcher. After seeing the premiere, that poster featuring Kutcher and his co-stars naked, hiding their private parts behind a banner, starts to make some sense as Kutcher’s character likes walking around the house with no clothes on. Though the premise of his character — a tall, handsome, smart guy with the body of an underwear model and $1.3 billion in the bank who can’t find love — still baffles me. But then Charlie Harper barely wrote a jingle during his eight years on Men and still could afford to live lavishly in a beachfront Malibu house, so the series has always required suspension of disbelief. The former Men star gave the reboot a thumbs-up. “Surrounded by friends and watching the premiere of Two and a Half Men,” Charlie Sheen tweeted tonight. “Odd… But cool..! So far a lot of laughs!!” adding later, “laughing our asses off.” What did you think? Did you miss Charlie?
With basic cable networks buying more original series, and digital companies such as Netflix starting to license reruns, “there’s never been a better time to be in the television content and distribution business,” Warner Bros Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. His operation still depends on ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC for most of its profits — even though they typically favor the shows they produce. WB’s been the top TV supplier for 20 of the last 25 years by being everyone’s second choice. “If you get enough at-bats, it adds up,” Rosenblum said. WB has 27 primetime shows on broadcast TV this fall including 11 newcomers. The exec is especially enthusiastic about Two And a Half Men with Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen. “CBS is very, very excited about it,” he says. Rosenblum says he isn’t worried yet that sales of older shows in continuing series to online streaming services will lure viewers away from new episodes on network TV, although “it’s something we’re watching.” But he says the digital companies have an opportunity to stand out if they purchase reruns of cable network series — networks don’t like to buy these from each other — and serialized dramas that often don’t appeal to TV stations.
As part of the promotional campaign for the relaunch of CBS’ Two and a Half Men, stars Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones presented the “Top Ten Reasons to Watch the New Season of Two And a Half Men” on the Late Show last night. Frankly, they …
The taping of the season premiere of Two and a Half Men was last night, and early feedback should allow CBS and producer Warner Bros TV to breathe a sigh of relief. People who were at the taping or have read the script, praised the writing as being as sharp …
CBS Reveals Ashton Kutcher’s ‘Men’ Character’s Name And Background
During TCA’s CBS executive session, the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler was asked about lessons the network has learned from the Charlie Sheen debacle that culminated in his public firing. “Oh, where do I begin…,” she said. “What we learned is that we have an extraordinary cast — I was at the table red on Monday — we have extraordinary writers and actors, and there is a great value in hiring an actor like Ashton Kutcher, a talented, funny, gifted actor coming in with tremendous commitment and enthusiasm. What you learn is that the show is brilliantly written, extraordinary produced and you have the opportunity to move forward to create this exciting new character and do a great show.” She later added that Men will be as “smart, irreverent and risque” as it’s ever been. “Standards and Practices is already on high alert.” After the session, Tassler was asked to elaborate on her line from the Q&A that “you could cut the air with a knife” at the Monday table read. “The anticipation was great,” she said. “Hearing an actor utter the first line was a relief.” She also revealed that Men co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre opened the table read with what she described as “touching speech.”
UPDATE: ‘Two And A Half Men’ Premiere To Feature Charlie Harper’s Funeral, His Girlfriends Back & His House For Sale
UPDATE MONDAY: I’ve got more information on the shrouded-in-secrecy ninth-season premiere of CBS’ comedy Two and a Half Men, which will feature the debut of new star Ashton Kutcher and which I now hear will be a two-parter. I have been able to confirm that Charlie Sheen’s character Charlie Harper is indeed dead and the season premiere will feature his funeral. Charlie’s girlfriends will come back for the occasion, and his house indeed will be put on the market. The episode will feature potential buyers coming to see the house (as I reported earlier, the list is expected to include real-life celebrities and stars from Men co-creator Chuck Lorre’s other series), with Ashton Kutcher among them. However, I hear he will not be the rightful owner of Charlie Harper’s digs by the end of the premiere episode, with the storyline expected to be extended into Episode 2. As part of CBS and Men producer Warner Bros. TV’s efforts to keep details of the premiere under wraps, I hear the cast has been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, something potential audience members for the Friday taping will be required to do too.
PREVIOUS SUNDAY 6 PM: Speculation over the plot of the rebooted Two and a Half Men is expected to go into overdrive next week when production on the upcoming ninth season begins. Co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre has been mum on the setup for Two and a Half Men 2.0 and the way new star Ashton Kutcher will be introduced to the series. In keeping with the secrecy, I hear the cast members of the show were supposed to get their scripts for the
CBS today released its first key art for the upcoming ninth season of Two and a Half Men featuring new star Ashton Kutcher. The series’ producer Warner Bros. TV simultaneously unveiled a billboard with the same photo and a slightly tweaked tagline: “09.19.11, All Will Be Revealed.” The …
“Deep cleansing breath,” CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said at CBS’ presentation after a very carefully edited clip from Two and a Half Men that featured no trace of former star Charlie Sheen. “It has been a hectic few months for us,” she said. “Just last week, thanks to our new cast member’s tweet, we found out what the square root of 6.25 is,” she said, referring to Ashton Kutcher’s tweet shortly after news of his deal for Men leaked. “We could not be happier to have actor, producer and social-media mogul Ashton Kutcher joining TV’s No. 1 comedy for the past five years. Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time together, the new cast of Two and a Half Men.” Kutcher, joined by co-stars Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones, walked onstage, all grooving to the theme song of the show. Kutcher looked genuinely happy and came across as likable as he gave unscripted remarks. “It’s awesome, it’s unbelievable to be here,” he said, adding that never in his 13-year career had he received so many congratulatory calls and emails. “You’d almost think I won the lotto … which I kinda did,” he said to laughs. “I got the best job in show business and I’m ecstatic.”
Charlie Sheen today reacted to the news of Ashton Kutcher’s hiring to replace him on Two and a Half Men with a few snarky one-liners, all vintage Warlock. “Kutcher is a sweetheart and a brilliant comedic performer … Oh …
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.”
UPDATE 6:30 PM: 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 6.25?”
Names like Woody Harrelson, Rob Lowe, John Stamos, and Jeremy Piven circulated in the blogosphere as possible replcements. But until this week, with Deadline’s scoop that the show was in final negotiations with Hugh Grant, there had been nothing concrete going on with any specific actor. 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.
All along insiders at Warner Bros and CBS had been saying that they were going after “an A-lister” as the new star of the top-rated sitcom after Sheen was fired. The feeling was to contract with “an exciting actor who’d never done TV before,” and CBS chief Leslie Moonves especially was encouraging Lorre et al to “swing high”. As one insider told Deadline, “Everybody wants show back and to support Chuck creatively and to do something the advertising community will feel good about. The only issue was whether everyone could get the show up and running and right fast enough to make this fall’s schedule.”
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.
PREVIOUS 4 PM: CBS’ Leslie Moonves is loving this media frenzy over Charlie Sheen’s potential replacement on Two and a Half Men. The latest name to enter the rumor mill, that of Ashton Kutcher today, is noteworthy. Like Grant, he has big screen rom-com credentials which could help attract women to watch the show. But he also has multicamera sitcom experience from That ’70s Show that would come in handy. And last but not least, he has 6.7 million Twitter followers. That’s more than the audience for the Two and a Half Men repeat this past Monday.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Rentrak is having system issues so box office will be a bit late today. But Paramount was so worried about its No Strings Attached being a stinker that the studio didn’t even bother to give me a pre-release briefing. I don’t necessarily blame them: any movie starring Ashton Kutcher is probably a bomb since his last one — PG-13 Killers with Katherine Heigl — opened to only $15.8M for Lionsgate. And rom-coms, especially sexy R-rated ones (Ed Zwick’s Love And Other Drugs which opened to only $9.7M for Fox with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal) have been stillborn at the North American box office with this caliber of star. But No Strings Attached surprised at the box office, not only coming in No. 1 but with a decent $20.3M. Exit polls showed 70% of the audience was female, meaning it should be the least affected by football on Sunday. As for CinemaScore, 40% of those aged under 25 gave the film an “A-” while 60% over 25 scored it a “B”.
This $25 million-cost movie started out as a Black List script titled Fuckbuddies and written by Elizabeth Merriwether. Natalie Portman came on board as a producer and star for Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock’s The Montecito Picture Company, which co-financed in partnership with Coldspring and Paramount’s usual partner Spyglass Entertainment.
Natalie is hot after her Oscar-worthy transformative performance in Black Swan and now finds herself with 2 movies in this weekend’s Top 6. And perhaps risking overexposure because of her new pics opening in January, February, April, and May. Anyway, the pic took advantage of being the only wide opening this weekend and may hang on for $20M. (Remember, it took Ron Howard’s Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James 4 days to even make that over the MLK long holiday.) The film had been tracking strong with 20-year-old females whom Paramount pursued aggresively not with traditional newspaper ads but instead with a big Facebook push of a sexy Red Band trailer. Meanwhile, Sony’s The Green Hornet 3D and Universal’s aforementioned Dilemma look to drop more than -35% each this weekend. Here’s the Top 10:
1. No Strings Attached (Paramount) NEW [3,018 Theaters]
Friday $7.3M, Saturday $8.2M, Weekend $20.3M
2. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony) Week 2 [3,584 Theaters]
Friday $5.1M, Saturday $8.7M, Weekend $18.1M (-31%), Cume $63.4M
3. The Dilemma (Universal) Week 2 [2,943 Theaters]
Friday $3M, Saturday $4.5M, Weekend $9.9M (-33%), Cume $33.5M
4. The King’s Speech (Weinstein Co) Week 9 [1,680 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $9.1M, Cume $58.6M