CBS is reportedly negotiating to bring Ashton Kutcher back to the hit television show, Two and a Half Men. CBS is taking the lead in the negotiation even though Warner Bros. owns and produces the show. Why? CBS’s licensing fee includes the cost of the show, which could increase if Kutcher gets paid more. This is a useful reminder of the importance of identifying each party’s interests early on in a negotiation to ensure you are sitting down with the right counterpart. Because CBS will ultimately write the check, it gets the seat at the table.
How much will Kutcher make if a deal is reached? Precedent will play a role. He was paid $700,000 per episode when he replaced Charlie Sheen last year. Sheen made $1.25 million per episode. The show’s ratings with Kutcher as the star and how they compare to the ratings with Sheen as the lead will also be a factor as the parties negotiate Kutcher’s current market value.