Mr. Square Root of 6.25 is official.
Of course, to hear Ashton tell it, his job ain't gonna be easy...
"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," said Kutcher, who will reportedly be making a fraction of his predecessor's $2 million-an-episode paycheck. "I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!"
Sheen, unsurprisingly, was quick to agree—on at least one of the counts.
"Kutcher is a sweetheart and a brilliant comedic performer...Oh wait, so am I!" Sheen said in a statement, before taking a preemptive dig at what he thinks will be a substantial dip in the show's ratings. "Enjoy the show, America. Enjoy seeing a 2.0 in the demo ever Monday, WB."
As for Kutcher, he had one piece of parting wisdom (which pretty handily doubled as a parting shot at creator Chuck Lorre):
"Enjoy planet Chuck, Ashton. There is no air, laughter, loyalty or love there."
You'd never know it judging by the statement a no doubt ecstatic Lorre put out in celebration of keeping his cash cow afloat his new hire.
"We are so lucky to have someone as talented, joyful and just plain remarkable as Ashton joining our family," Lorre said in a statement that begs to be read between the lines. "Added to that is the deep sigh of relief knowing that our family stays together. If I was any happier, it'd be illegal."
While the show will be retooled to play to Kutcher's strengths, the move keeps intact the rest of the core ensemble—Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Holland Taylor, Marin Hinkle and Conchata Ferrell—and also means the embittered crew will remain gainfully employed when shooting starts again this summer.
Which means Ashton's arrival is good news not only for them, but to network brass, who seemed to trip over themselves to issue statements praising Kutcher (and thereby, presumably, further sticking it to Sheen).
"Ashton Kutcher brings a new and distinctive comedic flavor to Two and a Half Men," crowed Warner Bros. TV boss Peter Roth.
Added CBS Entertainment honcho Nina Tassler: "[Kutcher] brings creativity, energy and personality to everything he touches. We are thrilled to have him, and excited beyond words for what he brings to the next season."
Especially if he brings ratings. Everyone will be watching to see whether Kutcher, who delievered solid ratings for That '70s Show and Punk'd but has had a checkered movie career, can keep Men afloat as TV's top-rated sitcom.
(Originally published on May 13, 2011 at 10:53 a.m. PT)