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Ashton Kutcher, TV's New Top Earner: Is He Worth It...or Is He Underpaid?

Angus T. Jones, Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer, TWO AND A HALF MEN Matt Hoyle/CBS / Warner Brothers
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According to TV Guide, Ashton Kutcher will earn $700,000 an episode this coming season on Two and a Half Men. According to TMZ, he'll make even more—as much as $900,000.

Either way, he's at the top of the salary heap for primetime actors, towering over Mariska Hargitay, Jon Hamm, Mark Harmon, Tina Fey, every single Glee kid, every single Office staffer and Mr. Tom Selleck

Ashton Kutcher?!

RELATED: Charlie Sheen was compared to which dicatator?

Yes. And stop looking so surprised.

Two and a Half Men is TV's most valuable franchise after American Idol. It is what is lovingly known as a cash cow; its udders are full of money for everybody involved.

Per TV Guide, Jon Cryer will rate $600,000 an episode, the second-highest sitcom salary on record; the 17-year-old Angus T. Jones, $250,000.

So, why shouldn't Kutcher be compensated accordingly? Why shouldn't he be compensated, in fact, more than actors who've spent eight, long Charlie Sheen years with the show? Why shouldn't he be compensated, in further fact, more than any actor in primetime, with the possible exception of House's Hugh Laurie, who's also reportedly bringing home $700,000 an episode?

Kutcher is one thing everyone else isn't: He's Ashton Kutcher.

He'll make you think he can't do anything besides That '70s Show, and then he'll become a mogul with Punk'd. He'll make you think his movie career peaked with Dude, Where's My Car?, and then he'll do far more box office than you know with What Happens in Vegas ($220 million worldwide) and No Strings Attached ($150 million worldwide). He'll make you think the Demi Moore thing is a fluke, and then he'll become a model for stepparenthood. He'll make you think there's nothing to him, and then he'll become an aspiration--the power-tweeter all the Twitter users want to be, the Generation Y figurehead all the advertisers want to be with. 

He'll make you think there's no way he should be the top-paid actor in primetime, and then he may just prove that he's worth even more than that. 

Last season, after all, the going rate for Sheen's equally unique Charlie Sheen-ness was $1.2 million an episode.

If Two and a Half Men rebounds to again become TV's No. 1 sitcom, then it'll have to be said: Kutcher will be underpaid.

And you'll definitely have to stop looking so surprised.

PHOTOS: 2011 Fall TV Preview

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