OK.  I admit that I’m fascinated with this week’s news that Ashton Kutcher is taking over for Charlie Sheen on the #1 TV sitcom “Two and a half Men.”

Somewhere inside this whole mess with Charlie (“winner”) Sheen, producer Chuck (“my way or the highway”) Lorre, Warner Bros and CBS which stand to make/lose tens of millions lies some big business and marketing lesson.  I’m just not sure which one is the most interesting.

Biggest Two and a half Men Marketing Issues:  Vote for your choice

There’s the PR / damage control.  The threat of losing a major cash cow.  The impact of a tarnished key product that makes selling other products much easier.  The customer’s reaction to a drastic change in a popular product.  The disgruntled ex-key employee badmouthing you to anyone who’ll listen.

Wow…What a bonanza!

Do you mess with what works even if you hate it?

Two and a half Men was projected to earn CBS and Warner Bros. $250 Million in 2012.  Even with bad boy Charlie doing his thing, the money rolled in.  So, is it even a good idea to dump Sheen and bring in Kutcher - thereby messing with a tied and true formula?  Or should they have just canceled and built around something else?

What’s the damage to the show’s (or the network’s) brand?

CBS has been able to leverage the Two and a half Men brand to boost the value of shows it places around it.  Now that their dirty laundry has aired so publicly, will it be so easy to cross-sell other products?

How long will the ex-key employee (Sheen) remain a problem?

This is a nightmare scenario for any business owner.  What happens if your top employee - salesperson, engineer, executive - leaves and says nasty things about you to anyone who’ll listen?

These themes here should be familiar to any business: The loss or devaluation of a top product on the company’s finances, sales and marketing strategy.  The fallout from a poorly handled employee separation.

Good theater is watching something we can relate to - happening to someone else.  In the case of this production, the most interesting storyline is taking place off screen.