Hollywood is a forgiving town. Yes, you can behave badly, you can become a danger to yourself and others, you can burn bridges, and yet you can get a second chance, if you turn your life around, make amends and pay your debt to society. Or, also: if you just go nuts for a few months, give some insane interviews, go on tour and get a Comedy Central roast.
The latter was the route Charlie Sheen has taken to his that-was-quick comeback. FX announced Thursday that it has acquired ten episodes of Anger Management, a sitcom in which Sheen plays a therapist who may be as badly in need of help as his patients. And if the sitcom meets certain unspecified ratings targets, FX will buy another 90 episodes. In the words of Sheen: Duh, [overrepeated-catchphrase-ing]!
The funny part of the news is the idea that someone made plans with Charlie Sheen with a horizon of 90 minutes, much less 90 episodes. (I would lock Sheen on a soundstage and bank those episodes, like, now.) But the network–spurred, it seems, by its success with Two and a Half Men reruns–got the show through a syndication deal, so it doesn’t produce the series and is not on the hook, for instance, for insuring Sheen. It also can claim to insulate its quality-TV brand by not calling the show an “FX Original,” keeping an arm’s distance from it. (Think of it as tiger-blood laundering.)
The not-so-funny part of the news is that, not that it should surprise anyone, Sheen is not suffering much in the way of repercussions for his recent years of behavior, which include not just feuding with Chuck Lorre or indulging in his chosen substances, but also a pattern of domestic-violence incidents. Mind you, if Sheen is guilty of illegally endangering or harming another person, he should be held accountable by the law, and it’s not a TV network’s responsibility to mete out punishments that the justice system was unable to. But it’s at least depressing that Sheen will probably come out of all this believing that he is redeemed, that he is bulletproof, that he is indeed [catchphrasing] in the end. And who could argue with him?
The possibly-funny part of this news is, of course, the sitcom itself, to be produced by Bruce Helford (The Drew Carey Show). Controversy aside, Sheen was the lynchpin of a hit CBS comedy for a very good reason: in spite of anything offscreen, he is a consummate sitcom actor. And he still has a seemingly sizeable following, which, were it to accompany him to FX, would deliver very big ratings by cable standards.
Which FX, for all the quality of its originals right now, could use. If the net result of this is a little more cash to throw at the likes of Archer and Louie, that at least could be a win-win–or [catchphrase-catchphrase]–for sitcom fans.
Excerpts from the announcement below:
Los Angeles, October 27, 2011- Former Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen will return to television in summer 2012 on FX in Anger Management, a new sitcom loosely based on Revolution Studios’ 2003 hit comedy feature of the same name, announced John Landgraf, President and General Manager, FX Networks.
FX has ordered 10 episodes of Anger Management from Lionsgate-owned distributor Debmar-Mercury, led by Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein. Production on the sitcom will begin in early 2012 with comedy veteran writer-producer Bruce Helford (George Lopez, The Drew Carey Show) as executive producer and showrunner. It will be produced by Lionsgate Television, led by Television Group President Kevin Beggs and COO Sandra Stern; Joe Roth and Revolution Studios’ Vince Totino; Sheen manager Mark Burg’s production company, Evolution Management; and Ramon Estevez and Estevez Sheen Productions.
In success, FX will pick up an additional 90 episodes under a unique syndication model crafted by Debmar-Mercury for multiple Tyler Perry sitcoms and Revolution’s and Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? The series will air exclusively on FX until the off-network episodes start airing in broadcast syndication in fall 2014.
“We think that Bruce Helford, Joe Roth and Charlie Sheen have come up with a wonderful, hilarious vehicle for Charlie’s acting talents—and a character we are very much looking forward to seeing him play,” said John Landgraf, President and General Manager, FX Networks. “Two and a Half Men has been an outstanding component of FX’s schedule for the past 14 months, and we have every confidence that Anger Management will soon be as well.”
Sheen will retain a significant ownership stake in the series inspired by the film, in which an anger management therapist, who may need more counseling than his patients, wreaks havoc on the lives of his patients through his unconventional methods.