Ashton Kutcher, Two and a Half Men

Talks have begun in earnest to bring Ashton Kutcher back to hit comedy Two and a Half Men for at least another year. Insiders confirm that CBS is busy negotiating with Kutcher's camp.

CBS is taking lead in the talks, even though Warner Bros. TV produces the show. That's because, at this point in the show's life — Two and a Half Men enters its 10th season next year — the network's license fee covers the cost of the show. That cost, of course, could go up with a pay raise for Kutcher, so it's in CBS' best interest to handle the negotiation.

Kutcher is already believed to be the highest-paid star in TV comedy, at around $700,000 an episode. No one would be surprised if that number reached the seven figures: The actor wisely signed only a one-year deal last spring to come on board and replace fired star Charlie Sheen, who had been making $1.25 million an episode before his exit.

Now Kutcher stands to reap what will likely be an enormous payday, thanks to Two and a Half Men's ongoing success. With Kutcher on board, Two and a Half Men remains a strong player for CBS and a profit machine for both Warner Bros. TV and creator Chuck Lorre.

Lorre and Kutcher have been coy about the actor's return, but have offered plenty of hints that such a move was likely. "I absolutely adore the time that I'm having. I'm having a great time on the show," Kutcher said earlier this month at the PaleyFest panel for Two and a Half Men. The show wasn't included in CBS' recent mass pickup of 18 shows for next season, but only because Kutcher's deal wasn't done. At the PaleyFest, Lorre expressed optimism that a renewal was coming: "It's unusual when they cancel a show that's in the Top 10. I think there's hope."

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