‘Two and a Half Men’ gets ratings boost from one woman


"Alan (Jon Cryer) suffers a minor heart attack, and Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher) visits him in the hospital on “Two and a Half Men.” (Darren Michaels/CBS ENTERTAINMENT)
May 1, 2012

Look for “Two and a Half Men” to be back next season, what with the CBS comedy’s three stars finalizing contracts to return for the 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 and ad sales.

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’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.

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).

The show’s season-to-date average of 15.1 million viewers is still up 12 percent over a year ago, when the show unexpectedly fell back into reruns around that time, owing to the increasingly tabloid-worthy behavior of star Sheen. Warner Bros. TV, which produced the show for CBS, sacked Sheen shortly thereafter.

Now, 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 who has knowledge of the situation.

Kutcher will continue to make about $750,000 per episode, though it’s unclear whether Warner Bros. also is giving him a slice of the show’s back end; Cryer’s salary is just shy of that, and Jones will get $300,000 per, a source noted. Those price tags, as first reported by Deadline.com, also do not include the signing bonuses all three men will receive.

And as a rising tide lifts all boats, a ratings-improved “Men” has helped “How I Met Your Mother” to its best season ever. 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-olds.

(“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. It’s because “Rob!” was on the air for such a brief time that 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.)

Getting back to CBS and its Monday comedies: “Mike & Molly” also is up from its ratings of a year ago.

Meanwhile, “The Big Bang Theory,” which moved from Mondays to Thursdays, has given CBS a comedy toehold on the night and is sitting there at 8 p.m., just begging to be joined by three more strong comedies — among them being, it could actually mean, “Rob!”

Golden Globes ruling

Dick Clark Productions did no wrong when it brokered a deal to keep the Golden Globes trophy show on NBC through 2012, a federal judge has ruled.

The production company, which was purchased by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder in 2007, was sued in the fall of 2010 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which created the annual awards show. The HFPA said it never agreed to let DCP, as the production company is called, negotiate a new NBC deal.

But DCP argued that it has the perpetual right to produce the show on NBC and that it did not need approval to broker a new deal with the network, because of an amendment to its deal with the HFPA dating to the early ’90s, when Dick Clark still owned the company. Clark died last month.

Back then, Clark negotiated a multiyear deal to move the Globes from cable to NBC. It was being telecast on TBS after a stint in syndication and a short run on CBS, where it averaged 16 million to 22 million viewers in the early ’80s, according to Nielsen. On TBS, it attracted an average audience of about 4 million.

(In January, on NBC, the orgy of trophy-dispensing logged an average of nearly 17 million viewers. Such is the difference in the audience-amassing power of broadcast television and cable.)

The HFPA said it never consented to the NBC arrangement and that if DCP prevailed, the association, in effect, would lose control of its extremely lucrative franchise.

In his 89-page ruling, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz said that the HFPA “suffered from the absence of sound, business-like practices,” while DCP “in contrast . . . acted in a consistently business-like fashion, and for almost all of the 27-year relationship it had with the HFPA before this suit was filed . . . was represented by one experienced executive who was adept at dealing fairly and effectively with the often amateurish conduct of HFPA.”

Ouch.

“My only sadness is that Dick wasn’t here to see the win,” DCP chief executive Mark Shapiro said in a statement issued after the judge’s ruling.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

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