Charlie Sheen, Jessica Lange
How much does FX President and General Manager John Landgraf know about his network's upcoming Charlie Sheen comedy Anger Management? Something he calls "a snippet of a story line."
The show, a loose adaptation of the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson movie of the same name, will premiere in June. FX executives have yet to see a single script, but Landgraf said he was convinced by a good idea pitched in part by the kinder, gentler Sheen seen over the last couple of months on something of a media mea culpa tour. Sheen even showed up last week to woo reporters at a Fox TV event where he pronounced himself newly "mellow."
FX buys Charlie Sheen's new sitcom Anger Management
"I think you saw a very different Charlie Sheen [at that event] than you'd been seeing in the press," Landgraf told reporters Sunday at FX's winter TV previews. "I saw that guy in the room and what I heard was a really excellent pitch for a comedy series -- funny, complicated, and the character that Charlie ought to be playing." In Anger Management, Sheen will play a man with a checkered past and a complicated relationship with his teenage daughter.
Beyond that, Landgraf admits he doesn't yet know what the show is. "All I can tell you is I go into the process as optimistic as I can," he said. "I don't think it's a publicity stunt."
Mostly that's because, according to Landgraf, the project acknowledges Sheen's past problems. "For me, I think that if Charlie wants to get his house in order and that encompasses his issues with substance abuse and his issues with his own family... and he wants to do a show in which he, as an actor, has more complicatedly positive relationships with women... my opinion is that that can be a really good thing," Landgraf said. "Not only for Charlie, but it can be a good thing for society... I'm all for giving him the opportunity to turn things around."
And to be fair, the show comes cheap to FX, which picked up 10 episodes straight to series without seeing a pilot. Landgraf compares the business model, aimed at back-end syndication, to TBS' deal for its Tyler Perry sitcoms. Because of that, "we don't have the same level of creative input and control as we do over our other series," Landgraf said. Anger Management will likely run as a companion for the network's highly rated reruns of Two and a Half Men.
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As for American Horror Story, which will start from scratch next season with a new cast and story, Landgraf said viewers may still see some familiar faces. Series executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are in conversations with two or three of the actors from Season 1 about returning to the show — but in entirely different roles.
So that really is the last you'll see of the Harmons, who all wound up — obligatory spoiler alert — dead and haunting the house happily ever after. Landgraf said the network knew from the beginning that the family was not long for the living. "I know that sounds crazy to those of you who saw the pilot, but [Murphy and Falchuk] knew what they were doing and where they were going," he said.