I guess it's hard to fault Chuck Lorre if he can find ways that both stick it to Charlie Sheen and improve the ratings. The Huffington Post reports that Sheen's ex-wife Denise Richards might guest star in the season premiere. But what really caught my eye in the HuffPo story was this nonsense (emphasis mine):
CBS President, Leslie Moonves has already said he has extremely high expectations for Kutcher's debut, even suggesting that it could be as highly rated as the AFC Championship game on CBS -- which brought in more than 50 million viewers. But if you add Richards to the mix, it could go even higher. The last time a scripted series was watched by more than 50 million people was the "Friends" series finale in 2004
The word "high" comes to mind and not just in terms of the ratings prediction. Don't get me wrong, interest will be strong, as will the ratings. But it won't get anywhere near 50 million viewers, and all things considered Moonves and CBS should be thrilled even if half that many turn out. I wouldn't bet a lot of money that it won't hit 30 million, but I'll bet everything Bill owns it doesn't get close to 50 million viewers.
Update: here's Bill's original post based on Mooves' comments from early June. I either missed that the first time around because I was on vacation or forgot because I'm old.