Sheen draws record viewers for "Men" and TV roast

Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:09pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dead or alive, Charlie Sheen ruled the TV airwaves on Monday, pulling in record audiences for his Comedy Central roast and more than 28 million Americans to his "Two and A Half Men" TV funeral.

Some 28.7 million watched CBS bury Sheen's wayward TV character Charlie Harper and introduce new star Ashton Kutcher in an all-time series high audience for the lucrative comedy, according to updated figures from research company Nielsen.

And after months of headlines following Sheen's bitter exit from the most-watched comedy on U.S. TV, 6.4 million people watched his sex life, drug use and recent career meltdown draw laughter on Comedy Central's TV roast by fellow celebrities including "Jackass" stuntman Steve-0 and boxer Mike Tyson.

Comedy Central said Sheen's was its most-watched roast ever, while the audience for "Two and A Half Men" was more than double that of last year's season opener and bigger than any episode in the show's first eight seasons with Sheen in the starring role.

Monday's season premiere of "Two and A Half Men" crushed the opening of "Dancing With the Stars" on rival ABC despite a celebrity cast that gave viewers their first glimpse of the ballroom contest's first transgender contestant, Chaz Bono, and TV legal analyst Nancy Grace both doing the cha cha.

Nielsen figures showed that 18.6 million people watched the season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars" -- a 24 percent drop from last year's opening show.

Reviews for Kutcher's debut on "Two and a Half Men," playing a heartbroken Internet billionaire with a penchant for walking around nude, were kind and suggested that the series -- a cash cow for both CBS and program makers Warner Bros television -- was far from dead.

"Kutcher's performance was good, nearly as poker-faced fine as Sheen's was ... Kutcher will probably prove just as skilled," wrote Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker.   Continued...

<p>Jon Cryer (C) poses with his TV series "Two and a Half Men" co-stars Ashton Kutcher (L) and Angus T. Jones (R) during a ceremony honoring Cryer with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles September 19, 2011. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>