Top row from left: Lee Aronsohn, Don Reo, Jim Patterson, Gemma Baker, Eddie Gorodetsky, Chuck Lorre, Steven Molaro, Bill Prady, Al Higgins. Middle row: Melissa Rauch, Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Jim Parsons, Mayim Bialik, Kunal Nayyar. Front row: Holland Taylor, Conchata Ferrell, Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer, Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Billy Gardell, Melissa McCarthy.
When the final episode of Two and a Half Men airs on Feb. 19, it will be the longest running multicamera sitcom in television history. In honor of the achievement, Stage 26 of the Warner Bros. lot was officially renamed the Two and a Half Men Stage. An enormous panel was convened to honor the show's creator, Chuck Lorre, who is also responsible (along with his co-creators) for The Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly, and Mom.
The biggest question of the night was, of course, will Charlie Sheen be back? "I think we're going to have a finale that you're going to be very pleased with," said Lorre. "That's all I'm going to say about it." But that wasn't all he said. He circled back around later and elaborated. "It would be inappropriate to not acknowledge the extraordinary success we had with Charlie, and how grateful I am — we all are — for his contributions. There is nothing but good feelings for the eight and a half years we worked together.
"But how to wrap the show up? It's tricky — it's a sticky wicket — because, in a way, the show morphed into something else entirely for the last four years, and it's something we love. And we want to honor both." Also, he will be avoiding the temptation to make a finale based on fan opinions. "You can't presume to know an audience. There's too many people," said Lorre. "You have to go with what's in your heart."
When asked what's the magic that Lorre brings to Men and all his other shows, Jon Cryer — who has been with the show for the entirety of its 12-year run — said, "If I knew what that was, I would have four shows running at the same time." Though he did offer this: "Early on, [the writers] discovered it was funny for me to be naked, and that has carried us all quite a ways."
Ashton Kutcher, who came on to the show in 2009, was able to offer a keen outsider perspective. "These shows work because they're all built on family. They're all built on these obscure, broken, beat-up, messed-up families that are just like yours. And that's what makes them work." Two straight guys acting like they're gay to adopt a kid is a family, Kutcher continued, as is a bunch of kids at a college talking about physics. "If you have one, you know what one's like, and you can really relate to it and it's fun to laugh at because ultimately, you sit at home and you laugh at yourself."
Cryer told the story of the moment he knew Kutcher was going to fit in with the cast. In the show's relaunch introducing Kutcher, there is a moment when he has to be naked. The writers didn't want to put him in the standard flesh-colored underwear because it would ruin the joke for the live audience. "Then," said Cryer, "Ashton piped in, 'Oh, I happen to have an enormous prosthetic penis in my trailer,' and he did! I knew at that moment he was going to fit right in."
As part of the event, reporters also got to tour the Two and a Half Men set. We snapped this photo of the 8-tracks in Walden's living room:
Two and a Half Men airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.