EXCLUSIVE: Two And A Half Men and That ’70s Show star Ashton Kutcher is reuniting with 2.5 Men co-showrunners Don Reo and Jim Patterson and That ’70s Show co-star Danny Masterson for a new multi-camera comedy series on Netflix. I’ve learned that the Internet TV network is finalizing a deal for a straight-to-series order to The Ranch, a sibling comedy starring Kutcher and Masterson and created by Reo and Patterson. I also hear that the series is expected to introduce a new model for the streaming service with a 20-episode order to be released in two batches, premiering 10 episodes at a time, twice a year. This represents a new wrinkle to Netflix’s standard pickup/release pattern of one 13-episode season a year, applied both to dramas and half-hour comedies, including single-camera Grace & Frankie and multi-camera Fuller House. (The streaming service previously used a modified release schedule for kids animated series All Hail King Julien which debuted with five episodes, followed by additional installments.)
The Ranch, which marks Netflix’s second original multi-camera comedy series after the Full House follow-up Fuller House, combines elements of the broadcast model, where sitcoms produce a full-season 22-episodes a year on average, and Netflix’s signature pattern of releasing all available episodes at the same time.
Written by Reo and Patterson, The Ranch is set on a Colorado ranch, with Kutcher’s character returning home after a brief semi-pro football career to run the family business with his brother, played by Masterson.
Reo and Patterson executive produce the series, set to debut in 2016. Kutcher and Masterson, who had remained close friends after starring together on Fox’s long-running teen comedy That ’70s Show, will produce.
Netflix takes targeted approach in its original series picks, looking to add programming aimed at a specific segment of the audiences that may be underserved. That explains the wide range of original shows on the streaming service, from the noisy, pop culture phenoms Orange Is the New Black and House Of Cards to the older-skewing Longmire and Grace & Frankie to the multi-camera comedies Fuller House and The Ranch. With The Ranch, Netflix likely is catering to fans of sitcoms like 2.5 Men and The Big Bang Theory.
The Ranch pickup sets up an even larger That ’70s Show reunion, with Kutcher and Masterson joining at Netflix their former co-star Laura Prepon, who is member of the OITNB cast.
Talk about a possible new sitcom starring Kutcher first started as 2.5 Men was wrapping its 12-season run on CBS at the beginning of the year. At one point, there was speculation about a possible Chuck Lorre involvement, but ultimately, 2.5 Men studio Warner Bros. TV, and by extension WBTV-based 2.5 Men co-creator/executive producer Lorre, did not become part of the project, which came together a couple of months ago, with Reo and Patterson as creators and Kutcher and Masterson as stars.
In TV, Kutcher also co-created the MTV reality series Punk’d. He is repped by CAA and Untitled Entertainment. Masterson, a well-known DJ, recently starred on the TBS comedy series Men At Work. He is with UTA.
Both Reo and Patterson served as executive producers on all four seasons of 2.5 Men with Kutcher as a leading man, the last three as co-showrunners alongside Lorre. Paradigm-repped Reo previously co-created and ran ABC’s sitcom My Wife And Kids. UTA-repped Patterson’s credits also include CBS’ Mike & Molly.