"Two and a Half Men" may be back in the fall, revamped, rewritten and Charlie Sheen-free, according to executives close to the show.
"Warner, CBS and Chuck would all like to see the show come back," said an executive famliar with the conversations among the network, production company and executive producer Chuck Lorre.
Another executive close to the show said that there was "momentum and interest" by all three key players in finding a new version of the hit show.
Until now, neither CBS nor Warner Brothers Television have confirmed that this was their intention for what was television's number-one comedy until its star had a public meltdown this year, followed by a lawsuit against his former employers.
CBS is expected to announce its intentions when it unveils a slate of shows to advertisers in New York on May 18.
According to the executives, the revamped show would do away with the tempestuous Sheen character, Charlie Harper.
Instead, show creator Chuck Lorre is looking at bringing on a new character to round out the cast. No offer has been made to anyone, said the executive, who dismissed reports that Jeremy Piven, Woody Harrelson and Bob Saget were under consideration as incorrect.
"No offer has been made to anybody," said the executive.
The show has been on hiatus since early March.
One scenario would reportedly involve a much bigger role for "Men" co-star Jon Cryer. Lorre has already discussed the plan with close associates and Cryer, according to an article in the Hollywood Reporter.
Representatives for Lorre, CBS and Warner Bros. had no comment. Calls to Cryer's team seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Sheen, currently on the road with his "Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option" tour, is suing Lorre and Warner Bros. for $100 million, claiming that he was wrongly let go from the series. Sheen has said he wants to return to the show, but none of his former employers — especially Lorre — is interested.
Lorre is said to be very motivated to bring the show back, given the personal invective aimed at him during Sheen's media walkabout.
Financially, bringing back the show makes sense for producer Warner Brothers Television, which has made hundreds of millions off the show in syndication, but will benefit from another boost should the show hit the 200-episode mark. Right now there are 177 episodes.
With the advertising 'upfronts' imminent, CBS has the most in the balance, and is waiting to see how the reboot develops before signing on.
Besides the question of who might be tapped to replace Sheen — and how much they'd be paid to replace the actor who was once the highest-paid on TV — there's also the question of when the show would return.
The show could be ready for the fall from a creative standpoint, said the insiders. But CBS may choose to introduce the revamped "Men" midseason.
As for Lorre, he is believed to be focused on picking up where Sheen left off.
"This show has always been the closest to his heart. And he doesn’t want it to end like this," said another knowledgeable executive.