The stars of CBS’ Two and a Half Men are scrutinizing a publicity photo depicting them as a tuxedo-clad trio sharing a vintage microphone.

Ashton Kutcher is in the centre of the shot, flanked by Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones on the other. Charlie Sheen, of course, is out of the picture.

“It’s nice,” offered Cryer, adding a query to Jones: “But that’s not your hand, is it? I believe they had too big a black spot there and they photoshopped in a hand.”

“That’s not my head, is it?” said Kutcher.


Oh, those kidders. But the silliness carries a message: The three actors are a comfortable fit with each other and for the revamped Two and a Half Men, which returns Sept. 19 for its ninth season, minus the fired Sheen.

Executive producer Chuck Lorre and the Warner Bros. studio clashed bitterly with their erratic, hard-partying star before dumping him last March and cutting the season short.

The task now is to salvage what has reigned as TV’s top-rated comedy.

Kutcher, who carries the weight of replacing Sheen as newly introduced character Walden Schmidt, diligently ticks off reasons the sitcom can remain a hit.

“The series has momentum. It has fans that are built in,” he said.

“I think the great thing the writers have done is they haven't lost the sensibility of the show. ... It’s going to offend people just as much as every episode has offended people.”

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