/// Bad Rehab

May 28, 2012  |  Media Week

John Landgraf, president and general manager at FX Networks, sat with his team in the glass-walled conference room of the network’s Los Angeles offices last October to hear a pitch for a new series from Bruce Helford, veteran TV writer, producer and co-creator of The Drew Carey Show , and his newest creative partner, Charlie Sheen. The idea would go on to become the series Anger Management , which debuts June 28 at 9 p.m. , anchoring the network’s Thursday comedy lineup. But at the time, a skeptical Landgraf had agreed to the meeting largely as a professional courtesy. Just eight months earlier, Sheen’s five-alarm flameout got him fired from the CBS smash Two and a Half Men , throwing the show’s future into chaos. With a season average of 11.6 million total viewers, the sitcom commanded a monster $200,000 per 30-second spot. Since FX airs Men reruns, the shutdown hit close to home. Partnering with the self-proclaimed “assassin warlock” was a long shot, Landgraf recalls. There was “a fairly high bar and a certain amount of nervousness in getting back into business with Charlie,” he says. Sitting comfortably side-by-side, Helford, 60, and Sheen, 46, served up the concept loosely based on the 2003 movie: The actor would play Charlie Goodson, a baseball player with temper issues turned anger management therapist. The duo had their routine fairly well mastered, since they’d already shopped half a dozen or so companies en route to the 12 to 14 that would hear their pitch—among them, Hulu, Netflix and all the broadcast networks save Sheen’s old stomping ground, CBS. With Helford clad in a polo shirt and Sheen in a sport jacket, the writer delivered the formal pitch while the main attraction cut in with comments, jokes and thoughts about how the show related to his own life. As the duo continued, it became clear there was more to the show than a Charlie Sheen meta-joke about anger, including complex and loving relationships with women who were not the one-dimensional bimbos Sheen’s character, Charlie Harper, cycled through on his old program. At one point during the FX pitch, as Landgraf recalls, Sheen said: “I don’t want Two and a Half Men to be my legacy.

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Bad Rehab

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