Ashton Kutcher is in negotiations to return to "Two and a Half Men" for his second season, and the CBS show's 10th, and could see a pay raise that would increase his salary to $1 million per episode, a report says.
The network has not commented. It renewed 18 shows earlier this month and confirmed preliminary discussions about the future of "Two and a Half Men." Kutcher made his debut as billionaire Walden Schmidt on the season 9 premiere in September 2011, months after longtime cast member Charlie Sheen was axed following a meltdown.
Sheen's salary for "Two and a Half Men" was estimated to be between $1.25 million and $1.8 million per week and he broke a Guinness World Record to become the highest-paid television actor. Kutcher then took over the title, earning $700,000 per episode. The New York Post said he is negotiating to return to "Two and a Half Men" for at least another year and could be paid $1 million per episode. TV Guide reported that "Kutcher stands to reap what will likely be an enormous payday, thanks to 'Two and a Half Men's ongoing success."
Ratings for the show have fallen since Sheen's departure but the series, which also runs in syndication, is the 11th most-viewed primetime show, as of March 25. More than 11.4 million people watched the latest new episode on March 19. It earned a 3.8 rating among adults aged 18 to 49, which marked an almost 6 percent increase from the 3.6 earned by previous new show on February 27.
"I'm really grateful because I think people have embraced the new version of the show and my character," USA Today quoted him as saying. "I just hope we can continue to entertain people."
"If people tune in ? I would assume it's 'cause it's worth their time," co-creator Chuck Lorre, who Sheen had targeted in online rants during his meltdown, told OnTheRedCarpet.com earlier this month. "Otherwise, there's a lot of other things you could do at nine o'clock."
Sheen has booked a new FX sitcom, "Anger Management," which premieres in June. Kutcher is also concentrating on a reboot of the MTV series "Punk'd," which sees celebrities being pranked and premieres on Thursday, March 29.
Kutcher hosted the original program, which aired from 2003 to 2007. The new "Punk'd" features celebrity guest hosts.
"I was losing friends at a rapid pace," he recently joked on the ABC show "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (pictured above). "Nobody wanted to hang out. We sort of modeled this season after what Lorne Michaels does on 'SNL.'"
Justin Bieber is the first host and "punk'd" Taylor Swift, Rob Dyrdek and Sean Kingston. Other hosts include Miley Cyrus, Nick Cannon, "Pretty Little Liars" star Lucy Hale, "Twilight" actor Kellan Lutz, Heather Morris and Hayden Panettiere.
Other stars who were "punk'd" include Khloe Kardashian, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of MTV's "Jersey Shore," Zac Efron, his ex Vanessa Hudgens, her ex and "Hunger Games" actor Josh Hutcherson, his co-star and Cyrus' boyfriend Liam Hemsworth, Hayden Panettiere and Demi Lovato.