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Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 05/13/2011

Ashton Kutcher: the new Charlie Sheen


Ashton Kutcher (Evan Agostini - AP)

UPDATE: IT’S OFFICIAL.

CBS and Warner Bros. made it official Friday: Ashton Kutcher is replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.”

“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,” Kutcher said in a canned quote that rated pretty high on the Lame-o-Meter.

“I can’t replace Charlie Sheen but I’m going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!” he was careful to add.

“Ashton is a pop culture triple threat—film star, cutting-edge producer and a social media pioneer,” Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment, said in her canned quote.

“”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.”

The network and studio said 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 series, which is the country’s most popular comedy.

Kutcher, you’ll remember, became a household name on Fox’s comedy series “That 70’s Show.”

Yeah, it’ll be kinda like that.

Production on the ninth season will begin this summer for broadcast in the fall.

LATE THURSDAY NIGHT:

Ashton Kutcher — the King of Twitter — has suddenly gone all coy over reports that his entourage is putting the final touches on a deal to have him replace Charlie Sheen on CBS’s “Two and a Half Men.”

“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,” Kutcher tweeted peevishly Thursday night. Poor baby!

His reference is to published reports that he is in talks to take a role on the country’s most popular sitcom, which suddenly found itself one man short when Warner Bros., which produces the show, sacked Sheen back in March. The studio cited his erratic behavior and screeds against show creator Chuck Lorre.

So, let me get this straight: Kutcher’s finally got something he could tweet that we really want to know about, and NOW now he clams up? Geesh!

Later in the evening, Kutcher tweeted some more, tossing his fans a bone – or punking them: “what’s the square root of 6.25?”

Of course, the answer is two and a half.

Kutcher’s reps are in advanced talks to have him join the comedy in the fall. His is the second name in 48 hours to surface as the designated Sheen replacement. Warner Bros. was also in a state of advanced talks with Hugh Grant to join the show, but that deal fell apart at the 11th hour over “creative differences.”


Hugh Grant. (LEON NEAL - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
And by “creative differences,” the trades meant: “Hugh Grant did not want to work that hard.” Because if you’re going to be the star of the country’s most popular comedy series, you’re signing up for 24 episodes a season. That’s 24 whole weeks of work!

The report on Kutcher first broke in the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable. Then the trade publication Hollywood Reporter took that ball and ran with it, noting that Kutcher would be a great get, because he’d bring his youthful fan base to CBS, as well as his 6.7 million Twitter followers, which, the publication asserted, could help CBS promote the show.

Ha! CBS and Warner Bros. got fooled by that Kutcher gag once before, back in 2009 when CW — ironically a co-venture of CBS and Warner Bros. — bought Kutcher’s semi-autobiographical models-are-more-interesting-than-you drama “The Beautiful Life.” Kutcher was going to use the whole Twitter thing to get all his followers to watch the show and CW would have more viewers than it knew what to do with.

Kutcher did, in fact, tweet the heck out of it, in the days leading up to, and after, its launch.

The ratings were so spectacularly lousy, CW killed “The Beautiful Life” after just two episodes — and that’s saying something because, remember, we’re talking CW here.

On the plus side, Kutcher already is in business with Warner Bros.: His Katalyst production title has an overall deal to develop programming for the studio.

Anyway, Warner Bros. issued a terse “no comment” Thursday on the Kutcher report. CBS is scheduled to unveil its new prime-time plans — and, presumably, its Sheen replacement plans — on Wednesday at Carnegie Hall.

Got a question? Lisa’s chatting about all things TV at 1 p.m.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 05/13/2011

 
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