“Two and a Half Men” producer Chuck Lorre is speaking out now about the behind-the-scenes drama that enveloped the show earlier this year and almost killed it.
Perhaps the producer is in a reflective mood as his tumultuous year draws to a close, or maybe it’s because “Two and a Half Men” seems to have leveled off in the ratings (in the very comfortable neighborhood of about 15 million viewers per week) as the audience apparently grew accustomed to Ashton Kutcher. Whatever the reasons, Lorre is doing interviews in which he credits Kutcher for saving the show, and reveals the extent of Charlie Sheen’s drug use last winter, leading to the shutdown of the show.
“I think if Ashton hadn’t come along, the show would be over,” Lorre said in an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” that you can watch here. “It wasn’t simply about filling that spot with anyone,” he explained. “He was a remarkable guy who came along just when we needed him. I mean, he really did save the day . . . It really was Mighty-Mouse-to-the-rescue time!”
Lorre described the pressure he was under as he struggled to decide whether or not to continue the series after Sheen’s meltdown and subsequent firing. “We were running out of time,” he said, referring to the pressure that was building last May as CBS prepared to announce its new fall schedule in New York. “CBS needed to know if they had a 9 o’clock show on Monday night.”
Lorre said CBS President Leslie Moonves urged Lorre to meet with Kutcher and Kutcher then visited Lorre at his home. The two hit it off and the show was saved, Lorre revealed.
As for Sheen, who famously threatened Lorre with physical harm earlier this year, Lorre says in an upcoming TV Guide story that the actor’s drug use had become so extreme that Lorre decided to shut down the show as a gesture aimed at trying to save Sheen’s life. “You can’t do that much cocaine and work.” Lorre is quoted as saying in a summary of the story in the New York Post here. “I didn’t want to be writing a sitcom while my friend died or worse, hurt someone else. We couldn’t be complacent. There was a tragedy unfolding right in front of us. There was violence and blackouts. On a certain level, if you’re looking the other way, you’re responsible. . . . It was falling apart. It was heartbreaking to be around here then.”