As expected, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler was hammered with plenty of questions today regarding the big changes on Two and A Half Men and what, if anything, she learned from the firestorm that resulted in the high-profile departure of Charlie Sheen.
“Oh where do I begin?” she told reporters at a CBS press conference at the Beverly Hilton. “What we learned is that we have an extraordinary cast. I was just at the table read, We have extraordinary writers, extraordinary actors and there is great value in hiring an actor like Ashton Kutcher. He is extra professional, a funny, talented gifted actor who comes with a tremendout amount of commitment and enthusiasm. What I’ve learn is the show is brilliantly written, extraordinarily produced and that you have an opportunity moving forward to create an exciting new character and deliver a great show.”
She did provide a little detail about Kutcher’s character: His name is Walden Schmidt and he’s an “internet billionaire with a broken heart. It will be two-parter over two weeks.” Regrettably, she wouldn’t confirm the rumors that Charlie Sheen’s character will be dead in the season opener. She only offered this: “It will be a big event.” But she did seem to indicate that he’s going to keep his scruffy beard: “He looks great. He’s making great choices with Chuck about the look of his character.”
Kutcher won’t be participating in CBS’ press day — much to the chagrin of TV reporters. “There is a tremendous amount of energy and focus and attention [on the show],” Tassler said. “When everybody walked on that set Monday, you could cut the air with a knife. It’s very focused and requires a lot of attention.”
She even had a few last words about Sheen. Tassler said she hasn’t been pitched his new sitcom, Anger Management, but seems to think he’s got a full dance card. “He’s moved on. He’s got a lot of choices.”
Tassler also addressed the departure of Laurence Fishburne and admitted that he had “very big shoes to fill” when he first joined CSI and how the pressure will be on Ted Danson when he assumes the role of D.B. Russell this season. “The departure of Billy Peterson was impactful, and ironically, you look at how fragmented the team was when Langston came in. He sort of churned things up a bit. So when D.B Russell comes in, he really has to really reconnect the team and bring them back together, assert his authority.”
Finally, Tassler admitted that CBS is continuing to look for the next big performance/competition reality show. (Yay?) — With additional reporting from James Hibberd