Sheen back on TV in 'Anger Management,' but Canadians will have to wait - InfoNews

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Sheen back on TV in 'Anger Management,' but Canadians will have to wait

June 26, 2012 - 6:40 PM

Looking for Charlie Sheen this week? You may have to cross the border to see him.

The former "Two and a Half Men" star returns Stateside on Thursday in his new comedy "Anger Management." The long-awaited series originates on the U.S. cable network FX.

Surprisingly, FX Canada, which is owned by Rogers (which also owns City and OMNI stations), does not have the Canadian rights to the series. The rights belong to CTV, which trumped the acquisition as their big "get" at their recent fall preview upfront to advertisers and press in Toronto.

CTV usually takes pains to simulcast U.S. acquisitions. Aside from a sneak preview during their Summer Olympic Games coverage, they're holding "Anger Management" back until the fall.

That's a strategy that has worked in the past for CTV with American cable shows such as Betty White's "Hot in Cleveland." Canadians, however, may be confused this week after seeing Sheen on the cover or Rolling Stone and Playboy, promoting his series on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" or seeing several references to the series this week on the Internet as well as on popular magazine shows such as "Entertainment Tonight."

CTV is no doubt gambling that Sheen's new show will open big in the U.S. — kicking in a deal that will eventually lead to 100 episodes being shot for the series. Instead of just ordering one pilot, FX asked executive producer Bruce Helford ("The Drew Carey Show") to make an initial 10 episodes with Sheen. He plays a counsellor in the series who has an ex-wife (played by Shawnee Smith), a teenage daughter (Vancouver-native Daniela Bobadilla) and his own therapist (Selma Blair).

"The idea, like most shows about therapists," says Helford, "is that his life is more screwed up than his patients."

Helford joined Sheen at a low-key, night-time, outdoor meeting with a select group of reporters at the most recent TV critics press tour in Los Angeles. He believes shooting one pilot is an old-fashioned network concept that just doesn't make sense anymore.

"With 10 episodes, we can create an arc, get great writers, it gives us creative security."

In television, however, there is no such thing as ratings security. "Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays," a CBC series about a patient/therapist relationship, was a critical success but a ratings flop last season.

"Anger Management" carries the extra burden of high expectations. If the first 10 episodes do well enough, an order for 90 more episodes — to be shot at a blistering year-and-a-half pace — will automatically kick in.

If the ratings do not meet expectations, FX can walk away from the deal.

Which means "Anger Management" could be cancelled before CTV begins airing the series this fall.

Helford says he's working hard to try and ensure that doesn't happen. Averse to flying, Helford says he first met Sheen on Skype. His first impression was, after a year of bizarre headlines where the actor seemed bent on self destruction, Sheen had righted himself.

"What ever he had gone through, he had gone through," says Helford.

The writer/producer has worked with some challenging personalities before, including Roseanne. He's used to shaping shows around stand up comedians, including George Lopez, Carey and Norm Macdonald, but says Sheen's acting skills bring another dimension to the series. As for the demands of cranking out 100 episodes in under two years, Helford points out that he once ran four network TV comedies at one time —"The Drew Carey Show," "George Lopez," "Nikki" and "The Oblongs."

In Helford, Sheen says he has a partner he can truly partner with — unlike, he implies, his last boss, "Two and a Half Men" showrunner Chuck Lorre.

Helford says having Sheen in on the creative decisions was always the deal.

"Whenever I do a show with a star, we partner," says Helford. "We're doing this together. You have some control over your destiny and it really makes a difference. It's why Drew and George worked their asses off when we worked as a team."

"Anger Management" premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. on FX. CTV plans to offer a sneak peak at it during their Olympic coverage and then launch the series in Canada this fall.

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Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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