By Rick Porter
Charlie Sheen begins shooting "Anger Management," his new comedy series for FX, in March. Sunday night, he made his first public comments about jumping back into television a year after he was fired from "Two and a Half Men."
"I just didn't want that to be my television legacy," Sheen told reporters at FOX's press tour party. "I wanted to do something that ended better, will end better. Nothing against those guys -- they know what they did, I know what I did, and we all moved on, so I'm happy about that."
Sheen is working with showrunner Bruce Helford ("The Drew Carey Show," "George Lopez") on the series, which will shoot 10 episodes to air later this year. If those episodes meet a certain ratings threshold, FX will pick up 90 more, and the show will also be sold into syndication.
Sheen said all the right things as about 40 reporters gathered around him, talking about having a stake in the show -- "it's nice to finally be in a situation where the people I'm working with are excited about my input" -- and praising his replacement on "Two and a Half Men," Ashton Kutcher.
"I think he's doing a great job," Sheen says. "It's a different show. I thought the moment of the urn [in the season premiere], with the smoke of my body and his reveal at the window, was one of the great TV moments of all time."
As for "Anger Management," Sheen and Helford say about the only thing it will have in common with the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson movie is its title. Sheen will play an anger management counselor who leads a couple of therapy groups (including one in a prison), is in therapy himself and tries to remain close with his ex-wife and teenage daughter.
Helford cites "Roseanne" (where he was an executive producer for a season) and Norman Lear's shows as touchstones for the tone they want to take with "Anger Management," and he thinks airing on cable will let them take on more adult subject matter.
"When I did 'Roseanne,' I thought that's like the top of the game -- we were able to do really honest, gritty stuff, and the audience was really happy to see it," Helford says. "I don't think there's been any of that around for a long time. ... I think doing it on FX is going to give us the comfort to do it the way we want to do it, as opposed to the broadcast networks where they might be a little more uncomfortable with some of the areas we want to go into."
That's part of the appeal for Sheen too. "I just wanted to do a show and play a character that dealt with more mature themes, that dealt with stuff that actually exists in the real world," he says.
"... All great comedy comes out of conflict. And here you've got a guy who's really conflicted, but also is dealing with so many different people and colors and flavors, that I think it's going to be so rich. Everywhere you point the camera, you can't lose."