Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My thoughts on the new TWO AND A HALF MEN

Now that Ashton Kutcher has been hired to replace Charlie Sheen on TWO AND A HALF MEN, I’m getting a lot of requests from readers asking my opinion of the hiring. None from CBS or Warner Brothers but that’s understandable.

Truthfully, I have never warmed to that show. I know a lot of people absolutely love it, and God bless ‘em. But to me it’s just a half-hour barrage of penis jokes with the occasional masturbation joke thrown in to break things up. (That said, I wish I ever created a hit as big as that.) 

But it means I have no sense as to whether Kutcher will fit right in or Sheen will be sorely missed. My guess from way out in the bleachers is that they’ll create a character for him that will allow him to do the same penis/masturbation jokes as his predecessor. 

I’m sure the show will get large numbers the first few weeks out of curiosity. And then it will settle in, probably doing just fine.

I know they first made a big play for Hugh Grant, who seems a more interesting choice. Ashton Kutcher to me is just the non-crazy fucking loon version of Charlie Sheen.

But this is what I find amusing:

Grant eventually passed because he was concerned the grind of doing a weekly series would be too exhausting.

What a joke!

First off, they were going to pay him a shitload of money – waaay more than he’d ever get in features at this stage. Hollywood can be a cruel town. Time passes. Once a legit movie star, today he’s viewed as more appropriate for starring in FOUR FUNERALS AND A WEDDING.

And as for “the grind”, here’s the dirty little secret: Being in a hit multi-camera show is the absolute easiest and best acting gig in the history of show business.

First off, you don’t have to travel. You can have a life. Second, you work maybe three weeks in a row before getting at least one week off. And you only work 22 weeks total.

Here’s the typical work schedule: First day – table reading. You have to be at the studio at 11. No prep is necessary. Just show up, read the script out loud. In theory, you’re supposed to start rehearsing in the afternoon. But most established shows just have the reading and send the cast home. So that first day you work one hour.

Day two: You rehearse, holding scripts, from 10 AM till about 2. It’s all very loose. You have a runthrough for the producers and go home. Total work that day: five hours. Brutal!

Day three: More rehearsal beginning at 10. Runthrough early, around noon or 1. Total work that day: three, maybe four hours.

So far – three days: ten hours. (Features -- three days: fifty hours.)

Day four is camera blocking and runthrough. You start at 9 and usually are done by 5 or 6. And during the actual camera blocking, stand-ins do the heavy lifting while you’re off in your trailer finally memorizing the script.

Day five is filming day. You arrive at noon to rehearse with cameras for three hours. Then you have a dress rehearsal. It’s now 4. You have three hours to relax, get into hair and make up, run lines, and eat a catered dinner. From 7-11 you film the show. So that’s at least a full day. But it’s the fun day because you get to perform.

And that’s it. No round-the-clock shooting schedules. No locations. No all-night shooting. No working under freezing or sweltering conditions. First class dressing rooms and craft services provided. Never a weekend.

My sense, Mr. Grant, is in a few months you’re going to be watching the new TWO AND A HALF MEN on a break from the prestigious Hollywood feature you’re making – your next WHAT ABOUT THE MORGANS? MUSIC & LYRICS, AMERICAN DREAMZ, or SMALL TOWN CROOKS and you’ll have a bad case of penis-joke envy.

As for Charlie Sheen, I hope he gets the help he needs.  What does it say when his brother was once married to Paula Abdul and he's the sane one?

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