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Ashton Kutcher keeps upper hand in deal to join 'Two and a Half Men'

May 23, 2011 | 12:51 pm

KutcherMen

Ashton Kutcher sometimes plays dim characters, but he and his team aren't dummies.

The actor's contract with Warner Bros. to join the cast of CBS' "Two and a Half Men" -- which will pay him about $750,000 per episode -- is for only one season. Although some might read that as a lack of commitment to the show on Kutcher's part, it's actually a savvy negotiating strategy.

If Kutcher makes people forget about Charlie Sheen, he will have a lot of clout next year with Warner Bros. -- which produces "Two and a Half Men" for CBS -- to negotiate for a bigger payday. The studio probably would have liked to sign Kutcher for a multi-year deal to keep its own costs in line, but there would be no reason for Kutcher to agree to that. After all, he held the leverage in the talks.

The deal Warner Bros. has for "Two and a Half Men" with CBS also expires at the end of next season. CBS probably will not be paying as much for the sitcom as it was when Sheen starred. Sheen was due to make $1.2 million per episode for the upcoming season, which means the cost of making the show should now be lower for Warner Bros.

If Kutcher is able to save "Two and a Half Men" next year, Warner Bros. will be able to put the squeeze on CBS and Kutcher will do the same to Warner Bros. Both will have reason to say, "winning."

--Joe Flint

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Photo: Jon Cryer, Ashton Kutcher and Angus T. Jones from "Two and a Half Men" at the CBS upfront. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

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