As noted a couple of days ago, fx has snapped up the televisual bragging rights to “Anger Management”, the big Charlie Sheen comeback vehicle (no, that old Mustang he’s been spotted in, beauties riding shotgun, isn’t the comeback vehicle – that’s merely his ride). Showrunner Bruce Helford (“The Drew Carey Show”) is, besides keeping Sheen under control, also writing the series, and in an interview with Deadline was asked how close to the Jack Nicholson/Adam Sandler movie the series would be (hint : not at all).
First things first, while the movie fixed on the patient’s life (played by Sandler), the series will revolve around the therapist character, played by Sheen.
“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 his previous series, “Anger Management” will chanel some of the real Charlie Sheen and his circumstances.
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 spoke a little about his last TV commitment, “Starting Over” a comedy pilot that featured Bernie Mac. Mac sadly passed away three months after the pilot was shot. The comic’s passing affected Helford deeply who decided to press pause on his career.
“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.”
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. “He is a bigger than life character,” Helford said. “He was really anxious to get back to work and do something smarter, I think that was very important to him. He is a strong actor. He hasn’t had an opportunity to tap into that in awhile, but he is capable of playing much more complicated characters.”
Helford isn’t daunted by the task of possibly having to produce 100 episodes of a series by 2014 (when “Anger Management” would go into syndication).
“I’ve run 4 series at the same time, producing over 100 episodes a season, so for me this is not going to be so unusual, it is pretty much me in my normal mode,” Helford says.
“Anger Management” begins it’s initial 10-episode run next year on fx.