- - Thursday, October 18, 2012

“Two and a Half Men” is treating Ashton Kutcher pretty well — so well that, by one measure, he’s the highest-paid actor on the small screen.

Forbes has released its annual highest-paid TV actors list, and Mr. Kutcher topped the charts with $24 million made from May 2011 to May 2012. The magazine notes that the sitcom’s former star, Charlie Sheen, topped the previous year’s list of TV actors with $40 million.

Mr. Kutcher is familiar with the terrain — TV Guide named him the highest-paid TV actor last year for his $700,000-per-episode “Two and a Half Men” payday.

The runners-up on this year’s Forbes TV list are Hugh Laurie, who took home $18 million during the final season of “House,” and Ray Romano, who earned the same amount. Alec Baldwin ($15 million), Mark Harmon ($15 million) and Tim Allen ($14 million) followed.

Mr. Kutcher’s “Two and a Half Men” co-star, Jon Cryer — who took home the 2012 Emmy Award for lead actor in a comedy — earned $13 million.

Earlier this year, the magazine released its highest-paid actors list, which included film stars, and Tom Cruise took the crown with $75 million.

In calculating the TV list, Forbes notes that it didn’t “deduct for manager and agent fees or the other costs of being a celebrity” in its estimate of the top-earning TV stars.

High-definition television in 75 percent of U.S. homes

High-definition televisions have rapidly become the norm in U.S. homes.

The Nielsen company said Wednesday that more than three-quarters of American homes have a high-def TV. Nearly 40 percent have more than one of those sets. As technology goes, that’s a rapid adoption. In 2007, only 11 percent of U.S. homes had a high-def TV.

Nielsen, the company that measures TV ratings, said there’s more of a taste for high definition than a supply of programming.

In May, an estimated 61 percent of all prime-time viewing was done on a high-def set. Yet only about 29 percent of prime-time viewing on broadcast networks was in true high definition. It was even less for cable networks.

Sports and entertainment are most likely to be seen in high definition.

‘Bake Off’ cooking series lands at CBS

CBS is ready to do some baking.

The network has given a series order to “Bake Off,” an adaptation of the United Kingdom’s “The Great British Bake Off,” CBS announced Wednesday.

The series will feature skilled amateur Americans competing in baking challenges, with one ultimately being crowned the winner.

The U.K. adaptation has been a ratings breakout for BBC2, with Tuesday’s third-season finale earning a 25.3 percent share among British viewers — a series high. The international format also has performed well in Denmark and Sweden, where it stands as the highest-rated show in DR-1 history. The series also has been adapted in Belgium, Poland, Australia, Ireland, Norway and France.

The pickup comes as cooking series continue to pop up across cable and broadcast networks. Fox, for example, has found success with Gordon Ramsay’s unscripted series “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” expanding the franchise into a hotel series with “Hotel Hell,” which recently earned a second season.

For CBS, the pickup comes after the network became the first to ax a freshman series, canceling the rookie drama “Made in Jersey” after two underperforming episodes. “Bake Off” will join a roster of unscripted fare at the network, including “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.”

‘True Blood’s‘ Chris Bauer to star in off-Broadway show

“True Blood” star Chris Bauer is going to be sinking his teeth in a new play.

The off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Co. said Thursday that Mr. Bauer will star in a production of “What Rhymes With America” by Melissa James Gibson. Previews begin Nov. 19. The play opens Dec. 12.

The cast also includes Aimee Carrero, Seana Kofoed and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

Mr. Bauer plays Detective Andy Bellefleur in “True Blood” and is known for his role as union boss Frank Sobotka on the TV series “The Wire.” He made his Broadway debut in “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 2005.

The company said the new play is “about estrangement and the partially examined life.” Ms. Gibson, a staff writer on the FX show “The Americans,” also wrote the play “This.”

Compiled from Web and wire reports