Comedy Central knew exactly what it was doing when it scheduled its roast of Charlie Sheen to air on September 19.
According to sources at the network, the fact that Ashton Kutcher is set to premiere as Sheen's replacement on the CBS series Two and a Half Men that same evening was a factor in scheduling Sheen's roast. "It’s definitely fortuitous timing for us," said a Comedy Central spokesperson. "Everything aligned. We were dark with Daily Show and Colbert [because both hosts will be flying back from the Emmy Awards that day and thus unable to tape new episodes], and, yes, you have the premier of Two and a Half Men."
Comedy Central's roasts tend to do well for the network, according to Nielsen. The most recent, featuring Donald Trump on March 5, drew 3.48 million viewers. The previous roast, of David Hasselhoff, delivered 3.51 million viewers on August 15, 2010, and the all-time most-watched roast, of comedian Jeff Foxworthy in 2009, netted 4.44 million viewers. Network sources refused to speculate about the sorts of numbers they think Sheen might draw but said they hoped the time slot —opposite Kutcher— would help boost the viewership.
The question, of course, is whether audiences will have an appetite for Sheen-related publicity in mid-September, more than half a year after he first started courting coverage with his erratic behavior. Comedy Central is betting they will. "We're expecting it to do very well," said the spokesperson.