10:33am PT by Michael O'Connell
TCA: Ashton Kutcher Opens Up About Long Term 'Two and a Half Men' Plans
Ashton Kutcher would not confirm plans to return to Two and Half Men when addressing reporters at Wednesday's Television Critics Association winter press tour.
As the CBS comedy's new star nears the end of his one-season contract, he seemed optimistic, even referring to his summer plans as "a hiatus."
"For me, having a show that people like and people want more of, that will dictate my decision," said Kutcher, who admitted plans to film several movie projects over the summer. "Right now I'm looking at it as a hiatus, because I'm having a lot of fun. … I'm interested in coming back if we can work that out."
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Showrunner Chuck Lorre, joined by co-creator Lee Aronsohn and actors Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones, said the opportunity to work with Kutcher was all that kept him from ending the show after the public drama surrounding Charlie Sheen's 2011 exodus.
"We absolutely considered it," Lorre said of canceling the series. "We never imagined we'd be in a position where we'd have to consider it any other way. It seemed like such a heartbreaking way to end."
Lorre and Aronsohn went on to cite the new addition and the ratings boost as motivators, saying they can see continuing to write the show for the foreseeable future.
"It's been an extraordinary experience rebirthing the show," said Lorre. "Amazingly enough, we have an audience that's stayed with us and grown. … We're grateful that this guy came and kept the lights on."
As for how long the lights will stay on, with or without Kutcher, Lorre was less transparent.
"That's a question you should ask Nina Tassler," he said. "I have no idea. We're having a good time writing the show."