This story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Loyalty and patience is paying off for Jon Cryer on Two and a Half Men. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the Emmy-winning actor, who often serves as the butt of jokes on the hit CBS sitcom, will make about $620,000 an episode (when including perks) to return for the show's 11th season. That's still not on par with Ashton Kutcher's $700,000 fee for each of Men's 22 episodes (translation: $15.4 million, which makes Kutcher the highest-paid sitcom actor on television). But unlike Cryer (UTA, Forward, Myman Greenspan), who is making less than $600,000 this season, Kutcher (CAA, Untitled, Sloane Offer) isn't getting a raise to return for his third year replacing original star Charlie Sheen, who was fired in 2011. Warner Bros., which produces the show, declined to comment.
CBS announced April 26 that the long-running sitcom has been renewed for another season but without series regular Angus T. Jones, who is in negotiations to recur only sporadically. Jones, 19, angered CBS and series co-creator Chuck Lorre in November by calling the show "filth" and begging viewers not to watch it in a widely circulated online interview with his church leader. The actor, who is making more than $300,000 an episode this season and has been with Men since its launch in 2003, has been seen on the show infrequently via Skype after his character joined the Army.
Two and a Half Men is no longer the ratings juggernaut it once was in its Sheen-led heyday. But because CBS moved Men from its decadelong Monday home to Thursdays after megahit The Big Bang Theory, the strong lead-in has helped it to perform solidly, if not spectacularly. Its April 25 episode hit a series-low 2.8 rating in the 18-to-49 demo, but it beat an American Idol results show. Men trails only Big Bang and Modern Family in the key demo for the season, making it a priority for CBS.
With Jones reducing his presence, Men producers are said to be seeking a strong female to join the cast next season. Miley Cyrus, who has guest-starred on the show, was an early contender, though her touring schedule and salary requirement are said to have killed interest. With talent fees so high, CBS, which funds nearly all production costs on the Warner Bros. show, is believed to be looking to trim expenses elsewhere to keep the show on the air.