5 reasons FX bought Charlie Sheen's sitcom

charlie-sheen

Image Credit: WireImage.com

Why did FX order potentially 100 episodes of a sitcom starring an actor who disastrously flamed out in a media explosion of drugs, hookers, quasi-intelligible rants and legal action just six months ago?

As you know, FX just committed to 10 episodes of Sheen’s Anger Management, a sitcom loosely based on the 2003 film of the same title. If that first batch of episodes earn a certain rating, FX is obligated to buy 90 more. (It’s a go-big-or-go-home style of production deal pioneered by Tyler Perry with TBS comedies like Meet the Browns and House of Payne.) Quipped Time‘s James Poniewozik on Twitter: “I’d advise taping them all in like a week, just to be safe.”

Here’s why FX made a deal with the warlock:

1. The potential upside is huge. If Anger Management can bring a slice of Two and a Half Men numbers to FX, the show would be a game changer. FX’s top-rated comedy is It’s Always Sunny, which draws roughly 2 million viewers. Nobody expects Anger Management to get the CBS comedy’s 15 million viewers, but there’s a lot of territory between those two shows that would certainly be terrific for FX.

2. This is a new Charlie. Not behind the scenes — I don’t yet buy Sheen’s whole humble new media makeover. But his character on Anger Management is intriguingly different than Men‘s hedonistic and callous Charlie Harper, yet still plays off his own image. The character is described by insiders as contrite and self aware about his issues (in this case, anger issues); a man who’s worked hard to gain a measure of self control. He has a 13-year-old daughter and a female best friend who’s also a therapist. The character is like what Charlie Sheen wants to be, as one person familiar with the situation put it. That sort of lead character shading intrigued FX executives and seems on brand for a network that’s always embraced anti-heroes.

3. The ratings for those first 10 episodes? They need to be high. Sources won’t give an exact number, but in order to trigger the remaining 90, FX’s deal with producers require Anger Management to give a very strong initial performance. If the agreed-upon threshold isn’t met, then the comedy becomes just like any other show — and FX can choose to negotiate a short additional order or walk away. The high bar gives a fair amount of insurance that AM can only get the full order if it proves to be a hit.

4. Two and a Half Men: Repeats of Sheen’s previous sitcom are a very solid draw on FX (averaging 800,000 adults 18-49). Adding Anger Management gives FX a potential vehicle for cross-promotion, rejuvenating its investment in Men and helping provide a platform to push AM. “A rising tide…” etc.

5. It’s a total gamble and FX knows it. There doesn’t seem to be illusions on FX’s side about what they’re getting into. Sheen may be contrite and sober for the moment, but he’s still a self-confessed hard drug user with a history of cycling between periods of keeping-it-together professionalism and tabloid-headline mayhem. The network isn’t responsible for insuring the actor (the network is not producing the show, just distributing it — another key point), yet there are a million other ways the actor can cause FX a major headache (all it takes is Sheen turning on his webcam to ruin your whole day). But as one FX insider put it: Every network series order contains a strong element of risk. Terriers, American Horror Story, Dirt, Sons of Anarchy — all risks. Betting on Sheen has a huge plus (he’s TV’s biggest comedy draw of 2010!) and a epic minus (he’s TV’s biggest disaster of 2011!). But taking risks on programming is part of FX’s image. And the sense seems to be: Since every show is a gamble anyway, why not play with the high rollers? So to speak.

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Read more:
FX buys Charlie Sheen comedy ‘Anger Management’
Official: Charlie Sheen settles suit with Warner Bros.
Charlie Sheen roast ratings set network record (but it’s a lot less than ‘Men’)

Comments (134 total) Add your comment
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  • Zach

    Is #3 supposed to be a reason?

    • lisa g.

      Really! I read that n thought either it doesn’t belong or the title of the article is inaccurate!

      • Just A Gigolo

        Reason 3. The ratings for those first 10 episodes? They need to be high.

        Ha! I think Charlie needs to be high to agree to this one

      • shuido

        From a business perspective I’m sure the show will do well and FX was smart. From a personal opinion standpoint, this makes me think less of FX and way less inclined to watch their programming..BTW,I wanna share a good news to you.My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire man who is a celebrity !they met via Matchriches.CoM ..it is the largest and best club for celebrity and their admirers to chat online.You do not have to be rich or famous. ,but you can meet one , It’s worthy a try,Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends!

      • Realist

        The real reason they brought him back is that the rating for 2 and a half men have tanked since they removed Charlie. Face it. That was a mistake, and it cost Lorre 25 million. All that fuss for nothing, and not Lorre doesn’t even have a good show anymore. That sucks.

    • Are you for Real?

      Actually yes it is a reason since it explains why it’s good for FX. If the ratings are not high enough then they aren’t committed to buying too many at one time.

      • Dfreeezy

        Hey Shuido, do you think anyone gives a F about your friends wedding with a millionare man? People like you are what is wrong with america.

      • Dfreeezy

        And by the way, Charlie Sheen is a genius. Everyone has their demons, and he admits that it was a bad point in his life. He was fueled by millions of people, and he will once again be making tons of money while entertaining us all. SHEEN FOR LIFE!!!

    • Eric

      It’s actually one of the best reason. FX probably set a relatively high ratings threshold to trigger the 90 episode committment. If AM doesn’t reach that bar then they’re only committed to the 10 episodes. If it does reach it, then they have a huge hit show on their hands and 90 episodes is a no-brainer for them.

    • Rick

      Just bad writing.

  • Barack Palin

    Lets just hope Charlie Shen doesn’t wind up like his fellow passengers on the crazy train Amy Winehouse and Muammar Qaddafi.

    • @barack palin

      Wow. You should write jokes for carrot top.

      • ccc

        Someone should write jokes for Carrot Top!

    • Are you for Real?

      Too bad Sheen is spelled with 2 e’s

      • STFU

        Yup,I love running into trolls that cannot spell or write!!

    • Dfreeezy

      How can you compare Winehouse and that Libyan dumba$$. probably one of the morons that aslo got this historically horrible president elected too.

      • Dfreeezy

        yea, there was a typo in ALSO. Everyone freak out because of it

  • Rabbi Finkleschtein

    Oy! This man called his Jewish producer by his REAL name! How can he shtill be working??? I demand a boycott! Oy!

  • Chelsea

    Oh man, they better have a great insurance policy on this one.

  • Juliet

    Interesting paper (but to me these so called ‘rants’ were pretty funny and quite insightful in a Lenny Bruce, Hunter S Thompson kind of way..but to each his own i guess..) anyway i like what is said about his new character..anti-hero, self-aware, a teenage daughter, a girl best-friend..i like that..i am really exited about this new show..can’t wait !!

    • Pat

      Very anxious to see Sheen’s new show. Don’t care forthe old show since he’s no longer there. He cannot be replaced! Audience will go away, I co love the old cast members though.

  • Kyle

    I have never understood why networks agree to these 90 episode orders to me its kinda stupid.

    • AltGirlTX

      I don’t 100% know the ‘rules’ of TVdom, but I believe part of this is to hit the number so that the show can then be syndicated, and the network can then sell eps to TBS or whomever. I guess they figure if it’s a ‘hit’, then the chance of capitalizing on it long-term is greater.

    • Catch – 22

      Charlie is going to win either way !!
      Madness !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Crystal

    From a business perspective I’m sure the show will do well and FX was smart. From a personal opinion standpoint, this makes me think less of FX and way less inclined to watch their programming.

    • Jude

      ‘personal standpoint’ well your right..but know something actors are not here to be our so called ‘role models’ Charlie Sheen personal life is HIS business

      • Crystal

        The things he did and said to his boss, employers and co-workers are not his personal life and they’re what I have an issue with.

      • Realist

        You boss has no business in your personal affairs. Period.

      • Soothsayer

        Sorry, his drugs, his relationship with his boss, and his personal life are EVERYONE’s business after he desperately BROADCAST it over network TV, a.m. radio, f.m. radio, cable TV, the internet, in court proceedings earlier this year.

        When a person does an all-out media blitz while high as a kite, there are consequences. He was free to say what he said to millions of viewers, listeners, and internet subscribers…and his bosses were free to fire him, and sue him, since big-boy sheen signed a big-boy contract that had behavioral clauses because everyone knows he can’t act like a big boy.

        Cry me a river about your persecution, conservatives. Your champion is as weak as your whining.

    • STFU

      So i guess the FACT that Chuck Lorre talked about him in his Vanity cards have nothing to do with it?

      • Crystal

        Lorre was his boss. My boss can pretty much do/say anything he wants because I’d like to stay employed and people are relying on me. If it gets to be too much I can file a complaint or quit. Sheen did neither.

      • Chuck L

        The truth hurts.

      • Emma

        well what a great way of thinking Crystal..great mentality i am impressed..abuse of power is so beautiful..WOW.. i am glad i don’t know you, you are sad.

      • Crystal

        @ Emma – in no way way Lorre did was “abuse of power” but if you consider it so (which is entirely your right, everyone has different perspectives in life) then abuse of power happens all day every day on every set in Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, etc. I stand by my statement.

    • STFU

      Crystal Fri 10/28/11 11:36 AM
      Lorre was his boss. My boss can pretty much do/say anything he wants because I’d like to stay employed and people are relying on me. If it gets to be too much I can file a complaint or quit. Sheen did neither.

      Really ? That is why your a weak troll. He did not have to do any of those, because he signed a contract just in case he got fired. File your complaint , it will take months if not even years. And only punks quit without a fight. Paying me? You fail to realize that Charlie made them money, not the other way around. CBS made money of the man. And they knew of his problems beforehand.

      CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #246

      A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

      Charlie drinks a lot on Two and a Half Men. With the exception of the occasional “funny hangover” scene, he regularly makes drinking to excess look elegant, cool, sexy and fun. Given that the reality of drinking like Charlie is a nightmarish descent into alcoholism, liver disease, broken marriages, lost jobs, devastated families and friends, jails, insanity, institutions and, very often, death, the argument could be made that this is extremely irresponsible on our part. To redress this lapse of judgement we ask that you not drink to excess. While you’re at it, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest and exercise, and avoid degrading yourself by having meaningless sex with strangers in a futile attempt to fill the emptiness in your soul.

      Thank you for your cooperation. 1st Aired: 16 March 2009

      CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #324

      WARNING!

      Do not attempt to replicate what you saw in tonight’s episode of Two and a Half Men. Despite the seeming lack of serious consequences and regardless of the hilarity that ensued, this is extremely dangerous behavior and could result in injury or death. Please keep in mind that we employ a highly-paid Hollywood professional who has years of experience with putting his life at risk. And sadly no, I’m not talking about our stunt man. 1st Aired: 17 January 2011

      CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #329

      I exercise regularly. I eat moderate amounts of healthy food. I make sure to get plenty of rest. I see my doctor once a year and my dentist twice a year. I floss every night. I’ve had chest x–rays, cardio stress tests, EKG’s and colonoscopies. I see a psychologist and have a variety of hobbies to reduce stress. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t have crazy, reckless sex with strangers.

      If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed. 1st Aired: 14 February 2011

      • Crystal

        @ STFU – I’m pretty much the opposite of a troll, but I’ve never been called one so thanks for brightening my day! And for posting the vanity cards; a fun read. As Chuck L (the commenter above/clever posting name) said, I guess the truth hurts!

  • TJ. Church

    Charlie’s show is already airing: “American Horror Story”.

    • Jude

      lame you are not so funny, sorry.
      By the American Horror Story is really good.
      FX has great shows.

      • Lucy

        AHS and The Walking Dead (AMC) are awesome show and btw, I’m in for Anger Management!

    • Somersethomes

      I think it’s more like Supernatural..you know the Monster is there you just don’t know when it’s going to come get you with the crazy

  • Javadude54

    Right off the bat I have to say the thought of Charlie Sheen working with an underage teenage girl makes me uncomfortable.

    • Emma

      wow you are pathetic he has daughter who is 26 years old..he was her father when she was a teenager moron and she loves him !! You are seriously the disgusting one, i hope you will never be near teenage girls

      • Andy

        Emma…. where did your hear that Charlie has a 26 year old daughter?? Who’s bio are you reading?? Charlie Sheen Children: daughter Cassandra Jade Estevez (born December 12, 1984), with ex-girlfriend Paula Profit, daughters Sam Sheen (born 9th March 2004) and Lola Rose Sheen (born 1st June 2005), with Denise Richards.

    • Mandy

      He is not a pedophile, moron!!

    • Are you for Real?

      OK, but this is not HIS daughter. I kind of agree….hope she doesn’t become a goddess.

      • Jedi T

        The Goddesses were both legal adults. I really think you people are jealous! The truth hurts!

  • Charlie Harper’s Ghost

    Hey, I think it’ll be great! Beyond his personal antics, the man posses talent and can be play both sides of the fence — comedy and drama.

  • Carrie

    Suprised FX is taking such a big risk on Charlie- u don’t know what u will get with him. Hopefully they’ll get some good episodes in before he has to go to rehab for the millionth time. But who knows with Charlie sheen? Maybe this will help stay sober for a bit…

  • LOL

    I definitely won’t be watching this one.

    • HA

      don’t worry i cancel you out because i will watch !!

  • Don

    Winning!

  • Mandy

    Considering Charlie is what is missing from 2.5 Men, this show should be a success. Charlies has a LOT of fans and I think, myself included, they will watch his show. 2.5 Men is tanking and that is too bad. It’s not necessarily that Charlie isn’t in it, but the Kutcher’s character is weak. The supporting case, as usual, is stellar but we haven’t been seeing them do anything but be “window dressing” to Kutcher’s character. They are grossly under used. I also believe Charlie has learned his lesson. I hope he succeeds with his new show. And unless the writers get their act together on 2.5 Men, the show will be cancelled by the end of this season, if not sooner.

    • Are you for Real?

      I agree completely! I love Ashton but that character is very weak. The plot line is ridiculous and how long would a stranger keep Alan on….It would have been better if they would have made Kutcher a son of Charlie’s that no one knew about….much better plotline for Kutcher. And, frankly, Alan’s character is just vile now….it’s just too much.

      • Bob R

        3 comments in you’re my new favorite poster on EW

    • MattS

      Where do you guys get off on saying 2.5 Men is tanking? It is still the #1 Comedy on TV and a LOT of people, myself included, like the revamped show with Ashton Kutcher. It’s not as funny as it was with Charlie, but it is still funny nonetheless. AND the ratings actually went back up this week and seem to have stabilized around 15 million viewers a week. HARDLY what I would consider “tanking.”

      • kal_182

        it’s tanking allright. the trend that is.
        latest episode is 13.9 from previous week of 15.4.

  • Mandy

    I think this show will succeed. Charlie has a lot of fans and he is sorely missed on 2.5 Men. Charlie and the rest of the 2.5 Men cast worked well together, but Kutcher can’t carry it. The writers have relegated the rest of the cast as “window dressing” . The show is not just about Kutcher’s character, but about everyone – Jake, Alan, Evelyn, Berta, Judity and Herb. The show has a stellar, talented cast but we never see them anymore!! This past week’s episode was pathetic. Jake was in it for a few minutes and all we had was Kutcher’s character acting stupid…and naked. And could they make Alan more gay ??? The show will not make it thru the season. I think Charlie’s new show will succeed. I’ll watch it.

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