How CBS Started Courting Ashton Kutcher for Two and Half Men

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 04: Actor Ashton Kutcher attends the Super Bowl 2011 Audi Celebration at the Audi Forum Dallas on February 4, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Audi) *** Local Caption *** Ashton Kutcher Photo: Michael Buckner/2011 Getty Images

How did CBS woo Ashton Kutcher to replace Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men? Vulture has learned the courtship began with a single phone call from one Hollywood vet to another. Per a reliable industry source, while Warner Bros TV was technically in charge of finding a warlock replacement, it was CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler who had the idea to approach Kutcher. Her strategy: a simple phone call, not to Kutcher's agents at CAA, but to the actor/tweeter's lawyer, Robert Offer. Tassler and Offer, like so many in Tinseltown, go way back — more than twenty years, in fact, to a time when Offer was an agent pitching projects to Tassler. Offer took the idea to his client (and, we presume, CAA.) Not long after the initial call, Offer got back to Tassler: "Tell Warner Bros. to give us a call," he told her, according to our spy. What's not 100 percent clear is where the potential deal with Hugh Grant came into the equation. We've confirmed Deadline's original report that Grant was a candidate for the gig. But we've heard Kutcher has been in the mix for weeks now. In any event, there's no denying landing Kutcher is a coup for CBS and Warner Bros; The Eye has a brand name leading its top-rated comedy, and Warner no longer has to worry about local stations balking at the idea of paying top dollar for syndicated repeats of a Sheen–free season of Men. Everybody's #winning!