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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011

Reports say Ashton Kutcher in deal to replace Sheen

REUTERS

LOS ANGELES — Actor Ashton Kutcher was reported Thursday to have signed a deal to replace Charlie Sheen in a revamped version of top-rated U.S. television comedy “Two and A Half Men.”

Deadline Hollywood said Kutcher, 33, the husband of actress Demi Moore, had signed a deal to join the cast of the CBS show when it returns for a ninth season.

The Hollywood Reporter said the “That ’70s Show” actor was in final negotiations on Thursday night.

CBS and “Two and a Half Men” producers Warner Bros. Televison declined to comment on the reports, which came a week before CBS — the most-watched U.S. broadcast network — presents its new season line-up to advertisers in New York on May 18.

Sheen was fired in March from his starring role as a womanizing bachelor after weeks of erratic behavior and for publicly insulting the producers. Production was also shut down for the remaining eight episodes of the 2010-11 TV season.

Producers have since been scrambling to retool the money-spinning show without Sheen, or add new characters. On Wednesday, industry sources said British actor Hugh Grant had pulled out of negotiations citing “creative differences.”

Kutcher is best known for his role as a dim-witted stoner in “That ’70s Show,” a comedy that aired for eight seasons on Fox and remains popular in syndication. His movie career has been less successful. He was last seen in the January romantic comedy “No Strings Attached” opposite Natalie Portman. He was an early adopter of Twitter, with a huge following of 6.8 million people.

“Two and A Half Men” is the most-watched TV comedy in the United States with about 15 million regular viewers and has been a lucrative source of advertising revenue for CBS, and syndication fees for Warner Bros.

Sheen, 45, who has been in and out of drug rehab for the last 12 months, was the highest-paid actor on U.S. television, earning more than $1.2 million per episode.

Warner Bros. last month strongly denied claims by Sheen that the studio was in talks to reinstate him, and said there was no chance of him returning to the show.



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