Kutcher, who replaced Charlie Sheen on the hit CBS sitcom, will play Internet billionaire Walden Schmidt, CBS officials revealed yesterday -- adding that Kutcher's first day on the set this past Monday was very tense.
"When everybody walked on the set . . . you could cut the air with a knife," CBS programming chief Nina Tassler told TV critics in LA.
The tension, she says, was broken by "Men" star Jon Cryer, who took a few moments to address the cast and crew before the season's first table read.
"He gave a little speech," Tassler said. "I can't even remember the words. It was just something very touching. Then, when you hear that first actor mutter that first line, you breathe a sigh of relief."
Kutcher will be introduced on the Sept. 19 season premiere as Schmidt, who's nursing "a broken heart," Tassler said.
Tassler wouldn't confirm reports that the season will open with a funeral for Charlie Harper, Sheen's old character.
"The show will be as irreverent as it has ever been," Tassler promised.