Ashton Kutcher has ditched his beard and long hair -- but not, it seems, his wedding ring -- and it appears he'll be sticking with CBS' "Two and a Half Men."
The clean-cut look apparently has something to do with next Monday's episode -- "Tune in," Kutcher told a reporter who asked about it Wednesday during a Television Critics Association session -- and was dictated by the script, not by those of you, even Twitter followers of @aplusk, who might not have been happy with the more, er, natural look of Kutcher's character, Internet billionaire Walden Schmidt.
"I'm sure that there'll be people that now, that I've cut my hair and shaved my beard, want me to have long hair and a beard," he said.
Seems Walden's original look grew out of Ashton's own between-jobs appearance. "When I'm not working specifically, I kind of let it be a growing field," so that if he needs hair for a role, he won't require a wig, he said.
As for whether he'll be between jobs again anytime soon, "the deal that we structured [for 'Two and a Half Men']…was kind of a test deal," said Kutcher, a veteran producer who tracks the show's ratings and even its international performance. "This show is outperforming the numbers from before I was here so I think people are responding to it…That'll dictate my decision. I have a couple of features that I'm going to do in the summer during the hiatus, and right now I'm looking like it as a hiatus."
He's also "had a blast." In fact, since he left "That '70s Show," Kutcher claimed, he'd "always wanted to go back to television, recalling the time that Robin Williams had visited the set, telling Kurtwood Smith that he wished he could do another sitcom. "I never forgot that." In a feature film, "it's a couple of months, and most of the time it's waiting for lighting setups," while on the show, "we rehearse every day."
And in case you're wondering, Kutcher, who some reporters observed twisting at his wedding ring for much of the session (honestly, it flew right past me, which is why no one asks me to do Tattle), quickly shut down a reporter who tried, somewhat circuitously, to try to get him to address his split from Demi Moore by asking if the once-heartbroken Walden's approach to romance was like his own: "Walden Schmidt reflects the views of the writers, and I play the character."
So how much longer could a reconfigured "Two and a Half Men" continue?
Exec producer Lee Aronsohn invoked the example of "My Three Sons" (for those of you under 50, think "Two and a Half Men" with no sex jokes whatsoever and a guy named Uncle Charlie), which ran from 1960 to 1972, adding family members along the way. "It can go as long as life goes."
It's already gone long enough for Angus T. Jones, now 18, to develop a deeper voice, but apparently no deep opinions -- or at least none he wants to share with reporters.
Asked if he'd ever worried about what was happening on the show in the past couple of years, he replied, "I'm just really along for the ride. I don't know. I mean, I try not to worry about it too much, if worrying would be an issue."
"This has been his life since he was 9," said Aronsohn.
"Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre was, of course, asked about his former star, Charlie Sheen, whom reporters had encountered at a Fox party earlier in the week, looking calm and reasonably fit.
"I wish him well. I'm glad he's sober and happy and healthy," said Lorre, not really responding to being told that Sheen had said that if he met Lorre on the street, he'd give him a hug.
But then what are the odds the two will meet on the street?
Aronsohn, meanwhile, insisted he'd never seen any problems between Lorre and Sheen on the set and said most of that happened after Sheen left the show. "What's been built up as a feud never really existed," he said.