FX president and general manager John Landgraf is well aware of Charlie Sheen‘s checkered past. But he’s also willing to let Sheen try to atone for that past on his network.
Landgraf was grilled Sunday (Jan. 15) about FX’s decision to pick up Sheen’s new comedy “Anger Management” less than a year after the meltdown that got the actor fired from “Two and a Half Men” and whether FX was ignoring Sheen’s history of violence toward women.
“I walked into the pitch as skeptical as you might imagine I would be,” Landgraf says. “… I think some of you saw Charlie last weekend, and I think you saw a very different Charlie Sheen than you had been seeing in the press through the whole end of his relationship with ‘Two and a Half Men.’ And I saw that guy in the room, and what I heard was a really good pitch for a comedy series — funny, complicated, and I think the character that Charlie ought to be playing at this point.”
In “Anger Management” (which shares a title but little else with the 2003 movie), Sheen will play an anger-management therapist with a host of clients, an ex-wife and a 13-year-old daughter. It’s scheduled to begin filming in March and will premiere with a 10-episode run on FX in June. If it meets what Landgraf says are pretty high ratings goals, that will trigger the order of 90 additional episodes.
Landgraf acknowledges Sheen’s past and says the show will as well, adding that “Anger Management” will show Sheen’s character having “more complicatedly positive relationships with women.”
“I believe in redemption,” Landgraf says. “… If the project that came in was one that took no notice or made no reference to or had no consciousness of everything that went before it, and Charlie seemed to have no consciousness of it, that would have been a different matter from my standpoint, because that would have been supporting the perpetuation of something. But in my view, that’s precisely not what Charlie and [executive producer] Bruce Helford want to do, and I’m all for giving them the opportunity to turn things around.”
The straight-to-series pickup goes against FX’s usual way of doing business, but it’s also a pretty inexpensive buy-in for the network at the start (producer Lionsgate is footing most of the bill upfront).
“We don’t have the same level of creative input or creative control that we have over our other original series,” Landgraf says. “Lionsgate is putting a very substantial deficit into the show and is a very important creative partner. But, you know, we’re a network that likes to take risks.”