Ashton Kutcher was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday as CBS programmers discussed his role as the replacement for Charlie Sheen on CBS's Two and a Half Men. Meeting with TV writers at the annual Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills, CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler would reveal only this about Kutcher's character. He'll be an Internet billionaire. His name is Walden Schmidt. Oh, and he has a "broken heart." She would not discuss the recent spate of rumors that the Charlie Sheen character (unseen) would die in an auto accident in the season's first episode, due to air on Sept. 19 and that the Schmidt character would buy his house. Tassler said that she wanted to keep everything else a "mystery," which, she said, "is part of the marketing for the new season of the show." When asked if killing off a main character -- the main character -- wouldn't represent too dark a turn for the popular series, she responded, "I think you have to look at [producer/writer] Chuck [Lorre] and his genius and the talent behind his writing. He's very smart, and he knows these characters inside and out." She did acknowledge that when the cast came together for the first read-through of the episode with Kutcher, the atmosphere was so tense, "you could cut the air with a knife." It was broken, Tassler said, by co-star Jon Cryer. "He gave a little speech. I can't even remember the words, it was just something very touching."

04/08/2011