UPDATED: Martin Sheen has closed a deal to play son Charlie Sheen‘s father on Sheen’s FX comedy series Anger Management for the show’s 90-episode back order. FX has not pulled the trigger on the 90-episode pickup …
Bruce Helford On ‘Anger Management,’ Working With Charlie Sheen And His Return To TV After A 3-Year Break
After a 3-year break, The Drew Carey Show creator/showrunner Bruce Helford is making a splashy return to the business with Anger Management, the new Charlie Sheen sitcom which just sold to FX with an initial order for 10-episodes, which if successful will be followed by a 90-episode pickup. Helford will write/run the series, based on the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson movie about a mild-mannered man (Sandler) ordered to attend group anger-management sessions led by a volatile therapist (Nicholson). But while the movie centered on Sandler’s character, the series will be about the therapist, played by Sheen, and his life. “It’s all about Charlie’s life as a therapist who has as many or more problems than his patients,” Helford said. “He is a guy who has anger issues and wants to work on them.” Like Sheen’s previous series, Two And A Half Men, where the lead character was tailored to reflect Sheen’s image at the time of the show’s creation – a bad-boy swinging bachelor – Anger Management too will incorporate elements from Sheen’s current life. His character has an ex-wife whom he is close to as well as a 13-year old daughter. “He is always on call for his family and his patients,” Helford said, adding that Sheen’s character won’t only see his patients in the office but will also do appointments in real-life social situations.
Helford landed the gig on Anger Management thanks to his extensive comedy showrunner experience, his instant rapport with Sheen … and Skype. Helford’s last project before Anger Management was the 2008 Fox pilot Starting Under starring Bernie Mac. Three months after shooting the pilot, Bernie Mac passed away, and his sudden death had a profound effect on Helford. “I said to myself: life is too short, I should be hanging with my kids after so many years of barely seeing them because of crazy 18-hour work days.” He did just that, but now that both of his children are in college, he started thinking about returning to television. (He also got a nudge from his wife who became increasingly frustrated by him hanging around the house for so long.) But he didn’t plan to do it right away and took a summer vacation. Helford, who doesn’t fly, had just come off a ship in New York after a trip to the U.K. to visit his daughter in college when he got a call about a meeting with Sheen and producer Lionsgate TV on Anger Management. “Can you fly back to meet with Charlie?” they asked. “Not really,” was Helford’s answer. “I’m always in the wrong place,” he laments. Lionsgate set up the first meeting between Helford and Sheen via Skype while the writer-producer was still in New York. It took him 4 days to drive from New York to Los Angeles. He used that time to flesh out his idea for the show and kept in touch with Sheen via Skype as the two had hit it off right off the bat. Like anyone else, Helford was aware of Sheen’s controversial media blitz this past spring that resulted in the actor’s firing from Two And A Half Men. But when he met him, Helford found him to be the same Charlie Sheen he remembered from their days at ABC when the two crossed paths a number of times, mostly when doing promos for Spin City, where Sheen replaced original star Michael J. Fox, and The Drew Carey Show.
EXCLUSIVE: As the traditional broadcast pitch season is winding down, one of the most talked-about projects has hit the broadcast/cable marketplace. Star-producer Charlie Sheen has been out in full force pitching his new series Anger Management along with producer Lionsgate TV and distributor Debmar-Mercury over the past two weeks. There has been a healthy level of interest in the project, with a number of networks taking the pitch. I’ve learned that the list included broadcasters NBC, Fox and ABC as well as cable networks FX, USA Network, Comedy Central and TV Land and streaming company Netflix. I hear Sheen was present at all the meetings, which were held on both the East and West coasts. “It was a great pitch, very polished,” a person who has seen the presentation said, with Sheen described as “very buttoned up and passionate.” What is being pitched is a series version of the 2003 Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler movie Anger Management about a mild-mannered man (Sandler) ordered to attend group anger-management sessions led by a volatile therapist (Nicholson), with Sheen playing a version of Nicholson’s character and The Drew Carey Show creator Bruce Helford writing/executive producing.
Word is cable networks FX, USA, Comedy Central or sibling TV Land are a possibility, along with Netflix. Getting meetings with broadcast networks was a coup for the producers, but they were always considered a long shot because of the type of deal Debmar-Mercury is seeking for the series: a trial 10-episode run that, if ratings guarantees are met, triggers a 90-episode pickup. (According to sources, the sizes of the orders in the two stages are not set in stone and Debmar-Mercury may be open to tweaking them, but the commitment is expected to remain very significant, especially for a broadcast network.) There had been talk about Fox possibly teaming with FX and NBC with sibling USA for such an arrangement, but that appears highly unlikely. The only pairing that seems possible is one between Comedy Central and TV Land, both part of MTV Networks Entertainment Group headed by Doug Herzog. Comedy Central, of course, has an in with Sheen as it did the Roast Of Charlie Sheen last month. Given its success, Comedy Central seems like a natural home for Anger Management — though, according to an industry source, Herzog had been joking privately that he wants the bad Charlie Sheen, not the nice one, a reference to Sheen’s recent image rehabilitation as he dropped the rants of warlocks and tiger blood, adopted a conciliatory tone towards his former employers at Two And A Half Men and settled his $100 million lawsuit against them. But while bad boy Charlie Sheen has entertainment value, even cleaned-up Charlie Sheen is probably difficult to insure, and the off-the-rails one last spring is certainly impossible to.
It’s official: The Drew Carey Show creator Bruce Helford will guide Charlie Sheen in his return to series television with Anger Management. I’ve learned that Helford has closed his deal with Lionsgate TV to come on board the project as writer/executive producer/showrunner. Helford, who has created two successful sitcom starring vehicles in the past — ABC’s Drew Carey and George Lopez — was one of several veteran showrunners that Sheen met with and someone the actor connected with right away. Based on the 2003 Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler movie about a mild-mannered man (Sandler) ordered to attend group anger-management sessions led by a volatile therapist (Nicholson), Anger Management will star Sheen as an updated version of Nicholson’s character. The project is being produced by Lionsgate TV, Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios and Sheen manager Mark Burg’s production company Evolution Management.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that The Drew Carey Show creator Bruce Helford has entered negotiations to write, executive produce and run Charlie Sheen’s new comedy series Anger Management. Helford was one of several veteran comedy showrunners that met with Lionsgate TV and producer Joe Roth on the project and emerged as a leading candidate for the job about two weeks ago. Helford has been considered a strong choice to create a starring vehicle for Sheen, having done the same in the past for Drew Carey with ABC’s The Drew Carey Show and George Lopez with the comedian’s eponymous ABC sitcom. He will develop Anger Management based on the 2003 Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler movie, with Sheen set to play an updated version of Nicholson’s character, a volatile anger management therapist. Once there is a showrunner on board, Lionsgate is expected to take out the project to networks and station groups in search of a buyer.
Comedy writer-producer Bruce Helford, co-creator/executive producer of The Drew Carey Show and George Lopez, has signed with UTA. This marks his return to the agency where he was a longtime client until he went to Endeavor (and subsequently WME) several years ago.