Newly lustrous CBS drafts Kutcher for ‘Men’

CBS became the hottest chick at next week’s Broadcast TV Upfront Week Orgy of Excess, when it announced Friday that Ashton Kutcher is replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.”

So far as we know, this has never happened before — CBS being the hottest chick at Upfront Week, that is, not the whole younger sitcom star replacing sacked cantankerous older sitcom star thing.

“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 — which, while ranking pretty high on the Lame-o-Meter, does insure that, going forward, the country’s most popular comedy series will be known as simply “2.5.” That’s because Ashton, you know, is a god in the social media world and what he says, goes.

“Kutcher is a sweetheart and a brilliant comedic performer. . . . Oh wait, so am I!!” Sheen said in a statement Friday in response to the announcement.

“Ashton is a pop culture triple threat — film star, cutting-edge producer and a social media pioneer,” Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, said in her canned quote. See what we mean?

“He brings creativity, energy and personality to everything he touches. We are thrilled to have him, and excited beyond words,” she added.

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

Kutcher is joining returning Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Holland Taylor, Marin Hinkle and Conchata Ferrell on the series, which will start production this summer for its usual fall debut.

For Kutcher, this is a return to broadcast TV sitcom-dom. You’ll remember, he became a household name on Fox’s comedy series “That 70’s Show.”

And this will be kinda like that.

“2.5” suddenly found itself 1.0 short when Warner Bros., which produces the CBS series, sacked Sheen back in March, citing his erratic behavior and his public screeds against show creator Chuck Lorre.

“Enjoy planet Chuck, Ashton.  There is no air, laughter, loyalty, or love there,” Sheen said in Friday’s statement.

Word of talks between Warner Bros. and Kutcher surfaced Thursday afternoon. But, when Kutcher finally had something to tweet on that we really wanted to know about — he clammed up!

“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. Yeah, fame’s a real pain in the tuchis, Ashton.

But later in the evening, Kutcher tweeted his fans a bone: “what’s the square root of 6.25?”

Of course, the answer is: two and a half.

Kutcher’s is the second name in 48 hours to surface as the designated Sheen replacement. Warner Bros. had also been in a state of advanced talks with Hugh Grant to join the show, but that deal fell apart at the eleventh hour over “creative differences,” according to news reports and sources.

And by “creative differences,” they 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 probably going to be signing on to appear in 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 be drowning in hot young viewers.

Kutcher did, in fact, tweet the heck out of the series, which starred Mischa Barton, in the days leading up to, and following, its launch.

Nevertheless, the ratings were so spectacularly lousy that 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 was in business with Warner Bros. before the “2.5” deal closed. His Katalyst production company has an overall deal to develop programming for the studio.

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