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Posted at 06:37 PM ET, 05/01/2012

‘Two and a Half Men’ stars finalizing contracts for another season


Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer on “Two and a Half Men.” (MICHAEL ANSELL - CBS ENTERTAINMENT)
Look for “Two and a Half Men” to be back next season, what with the show’s three stars finalizing contracts to return for the CBS comedy’s 10th season.

That news coincides with “Men’s” return to original episodes this week, as Kathy Bates plays the ghost of Charlie Sheen’s character, Charlie Harper. Monday’s broadcast snared the night’s highest rating among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers who are the currency of broadcast TV.

That’s only the second time “Men” has pulled off that feat since NBC’s “The Voice” returned for a second season on Monday nights — after the singing-competition show’s whopping second-season, post-Super Bowl” debut.

The return of “Men” this fall is key for CBS, which should move the network forward as it launches a four-comedy block on Thursdays next season.

This past Monday, 11.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Bates’s character tell his hallucinating hospitalized brother: “I’m in hell … in this old broad’s body … eternal damnation.” That’s a slightly bigger crowd than watched the last original episode, in mid-April, though it can’t match the nearly 30 million people who tuned in to the show’s season debut last September — to watch Harper get killed off and see his Malibu home purchased by an Internet-billionaire manchild (Ashton Kutcher).


Kathy Bates played the ghost of Charlie Sheen in Monday's episode. (CBS ENTERTAINMENT)
The show’s season-to-date average of 15.1 million viewers is still up 12 percent compared to a year ago, when the show unexpectedly fell back into reruns right around this time, owing to the increasingly tabloid-worthy behavior of star Sheen. Warner Bros. TV, which produced the show for CBS, wound up sacking Sheen shortly thereafter.

And, as a rising tide lifts all boats, an improved “Men” has helped “How I Met Your Mother” to its best season ever, ratings-wise. In between the two comedies, CBS created a fertile hammock for the launch of “2 Broke Girls” — the No. 1 ranked new series this season among 18-to-49 year-old viewers who are the currency of broadcast TV ad sales.

(“2 Broke Girls” is also this season’s second most watched new comedy, among viewers of all ages — behind only CBS’s “Rob!” Yes, that’s right, “Rob!” is the season’s most watched new comedy. Yes, it’s because “Rob!” was on the air for such a brief time it never aired any reruns, but still, it’s enough to make a TV Columnist turn her face to the wall and give up the struggle.)

Anyway, getting back to CBS and its Monday comedies, “Mike & Molly” also is up from a year ago ratings.

Meanwhile, “Big Bang Theory,” moved from Mondays to Thursdays, has given the network a comedy toehold on the night and is sitting there at 8, just begging to be joined by three more strong comedies, which could actually mean “Rob!”

Kutcher, and co-stars Jon Cryer and Angus T Jones are all wrapping up new contract negotiations for another season of “Men,” confirmed a source with knowledge of the situation.

Kutcher will continue to make about ¾ of a million bucks per episode, though it’s unclear if Warner Bros also is giving him a slice of the show’s backend; Cryer’s salary is just shy of that, and Jones will get $300,000 per, a source noted. These pricetags, as first reported by Deadline.com, also do not include the signing bonuses all three men will receive. Entertainment Weekly describes the bonuses as “modest;” elsewhere they were described as around half a mil — which, in Hollywood, is saying the same thing.

By  |  06:37 PM ET, 05/01/2012

 
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