Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ashton Kutcher: 'Extraordinary' replacement for Charlie Sheen

CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler did a verbal tapdance for the nation's TV critics Wednesday, refusing to recap the network's machinations dealing with the meltdown of Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, and praising his replacement, Ashton Kutcher, to the skies.

Ashton Kutcher: 'Extraordinary' replacement for Charlie Sheen

Ashton Kutcher and his new castmates, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones.
Ashton Kutcher and his new castmates, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones.

CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler did a verbal tapdance for the nation's TV critics Wednesday, refusing to recap the network's machinations dealing with the meltdown of Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, and praising his replacement, Ashton Kutcher, to the skies.

"Our focus is moving forward," she said, with "an extraordinary actor committed to doing his job ... an incredible professional."

Tassler said Kutcher would play an Internet billionaire with a broken heart named Walden Schmidt, who will be introduced to viewers in a two-part story over two weeks beginning Sept. 19. Tassler refused to confirm or deny that Sheen's character will be buried as part of the show's season nine opening. "Mystery is a part of the marketing," she said.

Production began Monday. "When everybody walked on set," Tassler said, "you could cut the air with the knife."

Tassler said the network was confident replacing Sheen with Kutcher and CSI's Laurence Fishburne with Ted Danson. "Both actors have huge fan bases [and] bring tremendous amounts of goodwill. It's a wonderful opportunity to reveal those shows to a whole a new audience." She would make no ratings predictions, but said both shows should "do very well."

CBS is the only network without an entertainment competition show, the genre that has become the most popular on television. Tassler said it was "still actively looking" for one that's a little different from the others, but she would not say if she thought scripted shows would ever regain their formerly dominant ratings position.

In light of the Sheen debacle, one critic asked if CBS had changed its policies in casting actors who might be susceptible to erratic behavior. "That would probably be every actor in Hollywood," she said.

About this blog
My So-Called Life, Seinfeld, The Sopranos, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Survivor, I’ll Fly Away, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The X-Files, Northern Exposure, Roseanne, Gilmore Girls, NYPD Blue, Frasier, Ally McBeal, and, in the much-too-overlooked category, American Dreams, The Riches, Flight of the Conchords and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

TV has given us wondrous fare over the last 20 years, and Philadelphia Inquirer TV critic Jonathan Storm has been paid to watch it. He has also been forced to watch five cycles of presidential debates, Fear Factor, The Swan and Bill O’Reilly. There is no free lunch in life.

He’s still watching and talking to the folks who make TV, from mega-producers Jerry Bruckheimer and David E. Kelley to the little kids in Medium. And now he’s blogging about it, with insights and info that you won’t find anywhere else. Reach Jonathan at jstorm@phillynews.com.

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