Ashton Kutcher may have problems in his personal life, but one thing’s for certain – he’s got his professional life under control. This acumen was on full display during the Television Critics Association Winter press tour as he essentially began contract negotiations on stage while sitting next to Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn, his bosses on “Two and a Half Men.”
Kutcher, who took over on the hit comedy after Charlie Sheen was fired in Spring 2011, came at a sizable cost savings to CBS and Warner Bros, the show’s producers. Reports estimate that Kutcher makes $800,000 per episode while, in his final season, Sheen was reportedly taking home upwards of $2 million per show. But now that Kutcher’s first season is half way over, and the ratings are as good if not better than what Sheen delivered a year ago, it appears it’s time to talk numbers.
When asked about his future with the series, Kutcher says, “The show is outperforming in [ratings] from before I was here. And so I think people are responding to it. And, for me, having a show that people like and people want more of, that’ll dictate what my decision is.” Kutcher adds that the program’s audience is getting slightly younger, which is typically appealing news to potential advertisers. And considering Kutcher has no shortage of other options, this news combines to give him more leverage in negotiations.
While both show EPs Lorre and Aronsohn dodged questions of Kutcher’s future with the show, CBS network president Nina Tassler addressed the issue.
“We’ve been very focused on next season and there have been early conversations,” Tassler says. “The spirit of those have been everybody really likes their jobs and I’ve got nothing to report now, but as I’ve said there’s early conversations that people like what they’re doing and are very happy working together.”
The question is, can the two sides come to a consensus for something that doesn’t involve the punchline of “Two and a Half Million?”