Reviews be damned, you can expect to see much more of Charlie Sheen.
With the half-hour entry garnering ratings above the threshold necessary for renewal, FX Networks president John Landgraf noted that the odds to return for an additional 90 episodes are “overwhelmingly” in the show’s favor. And to hear Sheen tell it, 90 won’t be enough.
“It’s exciting as hell,” Sheen says of his latest series, which is currently averaging an impressive 3.1 rating in the coveted 18 to 49 demo. “I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface.”
Critics, as Landgraf acknowledged, are less enthusiastic. The network chief, who added that he is pleased creatively and commercially with the new entry, urged the roomful of reviewers to reconsider how the Lionsgate-produced sitcom is assessed. As he sees it, it should be compared with such multicamera efforts as Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly, rather than FX’s narrower, edgier single-cam series like Louie and Wilfred.
Showrunner Bruce Helford used the platform before the TV press to explain just how different the production process is for this show, which includes little room for notes and network oversight. On Management, they shoot two episodes per week with many scenes done out of order, leaving the group no time for rehearsals. Helford acknowledges it has thrown each of his actors, which all of them approaching him at some point to ask: “What am I doing?”
Helford hammered home the value of the "partnership" he has with Sheen, a kind of creative input he suggests the actor didn't have on Men. Sheen nods, having showered praise on his showrunner earlier in the panel (hardly something he has been known to do with Men boss Chuck Lorre). As for his own behavior, Sheen acknowledges he's a different man today. "My life is different now that I’m not insane anymore," he says, appearing twitchy but engaged on stage.
To date, the formula seems to be paying off. While FX brass is keeping mum on details, sources say Anger is selling at the highest CPM rates FX has ever seen for a first-year series. The studio, which with Debmar-Mercury will begin peddling Anger to stations for a fall 2014 syndication debut, has sold the series in Canada, Latin America, Germany, Scandinavia and Australia for roughly $600,000 an episode, more than what established sitcom hits Seinfeld and Sheen's own Two and a Half Men commanded out of the gate.
Assuming an additional 90 episodes are ordered (per the Debmar model tried first with Tyler Perry efforts), Martin Sheen will join the cast as a series regular. The elder Sheen, who guests on a later episode of the show’s first season, is expected to appear in some 20 of the 90 episodes, says sources, though execs involved insist that it won’t become “the Charlie and Martin Show.”
As Landgraf sees it, the addition will make the series more of a “multi-generational family comedy,” much as Two and a Half Men once was with Sheen at the helm. Sheen reminded critics that his father had appeared with him on episodes of both Men andSpin City, too. “I think it’s the best episode we did,” Sheen says of working with his father on Management. “He brings a whole different energy. It’s not Martinville, but it sure isn’t Charlieville when he does it.”
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