Tension on Ashton Kutcher's First Day on 'Two and a Half Men' Set

Ashton Kutcher finally has a "Two and a Half Men" identity.

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."

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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.

Sheen was fired from "Men" last March after engaging in a bitter, public feud with show creator Chuck Lorre, show producer Warner Bros. and CBS.

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