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Details on Ashton Kutcher's Character and What's Next for 'Two and a Half Men' & 'CSI'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 3rd 2011 1:25PM
Two and a Half MenCBS president Nina Tassler addressed the two big casting changes that have kept 'Two and a Half Men' and 'CSI' in the headlines at a media event on Wednesday.

She revealed the name of Ashton Kutcher's 'Two and a Half Men' character: He's playing an Internet billionaire named Walden Schmidt, and when he arrives on the show, he'll have a "broken heart," Tassler said.

Will the new season of 'Two and a Half Men' begin with a funeral for Charlie Sheen's character, Charlie Harper?

Tassler wouldn't confirm or deny that but said that the season premiere, which will be split into two consecutive episodes, will be "a big event."

She added that the network wanted to keep additional details about the character under wraps, given that "the chatter" about the cast change and Kutcher's character were a big part of the show's marketing campaign. It's unclear whether Walden will be related to the show's other 'Men.'

So what did Tassler and the network learn from the Charlie Sheen situation?

"Oh, where do I begin?" Tassler replied.

Network executives like to use their sessions at the Television Critics Association press tour to say positive things about their casts and writers -- the ones that aren't throwing bombs in the network's direction, that is.

So Tassler lavished praise on 'Men's' "extraordinary" cast and writers and used that adjective freely any time she talked about the show. She praised Kutcher for being "extraordinarily professional" and highlighting his "tremendous commitment" to the show. She didn't say that Sheen lacked those qualities, but then, she didn't have to.

"We're worlds apart" from where things were six months ago, Tassler said.

Asked more than once what she would have done differently regarding the months of whole Sheenanigans, Tassler generally deflected those questions and said "our whole focus now is on moving forward" with "someone who is committed to doing their job."

However, she did acknowledges that the atmosphere was tense when the CBS comedy resumed production on Monday.

"I would be lying if I didn't say that when everyone walked on set Monday, you could cut the air with a knife," said Tassler, who added that the need for "focus" was the reason that Kutcher and the show's executive producer, Chuck Lorre, did not come to the TCA press tour to talk to the media themselves.

So will CBS change its policies when it comes to hiring actors who've been known for erratic behavior in the past?

Tassler laughed. "That would probably be every actor in the business," she replied. And no, the network has no plans to change how it hires actors, and noted that the show is "as irreverent as it has always been."

The network's Standards and Practices watchdogs "are already on high alert," Tassler said.

There's been less controversy on the set of 'CSI,' but that show is undergoing its second big casting change in a few years. Tassler was asked if 'CSI' fans had trouble accepting Laurence Fishburne as the lead the crime procedural.

"That does explain some of it," Tassler said. "Having an actor like Laurence Fishburne for the number of years we had him is extraordinary. Langston had very big shoes to fill," and the departure of William Petersen was "impactful" on the show.

"Ironically, if you look at how the team was when Langston came in, he sort of churned things up a bit and set the stage, if you will," for Ted Danson's new character, whose named D.B. Russell, Tassler said. "When he comes in, he has to really reconnect the team ... and still assert his authority, which he does."

So will does she expect these high-profile casting changes to increase 'CSI' and 'Two and a Half Men's' ratings?

She didn't want to predict whether the show's ratings would be "where they once were" going forward, but she also said that the changes allowed the shows to re-engage fans who had "drifted" from both shows.

"For us, [the changes] are a positive and not a negative," she said.

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Libby Arnold

Two and half men is over with, Charlie made the show. Ashton is very hot, but in no way can he take the place of Charlie.


August 29 2011 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You are so wrong,Charlie will be back stronger than ever without the lunatic Lorre!!!

August 16 2011 at 1:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Charlie Sheen is a "has-been" and will never recover from his drugs, women and booze. He will be lucky to find work in 3rd rate movies that will go directly to the $3.00 CD bin at WalMart. I am looking forward to the new 2 1/2 Men with Ashton Kutcher. I am confident that the new cast and new script will insure the show climbs back to Number One by the end of the first season. After all, the old show was Charlie drinking, Charlies taking women to bed, Charlie Drinking, Charlie taking women to bed, Charlie Drinking, Charlie........etc, etc, etc. It was the rest of the cast that carried the show and each and every one of them are strong enough to insure the new 2 1/2 Men rises to the top quickly. So Long LOSER!

August 04 2011 at 2:13 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Drego's comment

Drego your a dumbass for starters. Charlie Sheen is a premire actor of his generation. Just because he choses to live his life the way he wants and that is frowned upon by so called "decent society" doesn't mean he is a has-been. Charlie Sheen will get more deals than he knows what to do with and the new two and a half men without Sheen will be a massive "turd in the punch bowl." The whole point of the show was to create a sort of sexual humor which Sheen exibits perfectly. Now just because you try to be some gay ass liberal and say its not funny or cool what he is doing go hit yourself because you have absolutly no idea about anything. Charlie Sheen is one of the best actors ever and because he shows the darker side of life makes him that much more of a better actor that he is willing to go against the norm and create his own personality on television. Ashton is a tool that belongs on gay crap like punk'd not on a actually good show to turn it to crap so i hope to hell the Charlie gets another show that beats the crap out of two and a half men in the ratings just to show CBS that they have no idea what to do when it comes to making good shows.

August 18 2011 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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