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Why FX Bet Big on Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management'

Why FX Bet Big on Sheen
Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

A look inside the network's surprising decision to buy 10 episodes of the comedy -- with the option to order 90 more.

When FX Network president John Landgraf first heard the pitch for Charlie Sheen's Anger Management on Oct. 7, few thought he'd bite.

The executive built his reputation on such edgy homegrown fare as Sons of Anarchy and Louie, and he has been openly skeptical of the distribution model being employed, whereby 10 episodes of Anger will be produced as a test run for 90 additional half-hours.

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But Landgraf and his staff were pleasantly surprised by showrunner Bruce Helford's pitch, which has Sheen playing a version of Jack Nicholson's character from the 2003 movie of the same name. Sheen's character, a former pro athlete with rage issues, becomes interested in psychology because of a woman, who serves as a friend and therapist to the character (who also has a 13-year-old daughter with his still-friendly ex-wife).

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"It's a pretty simple setup," says an insider of the series, which will air in summer 2012, likely before 10 p.m., and could be paired with FX reruns of Sheen's Two and a Half Men. Sheen's passion for the project and his decision to play a character who is aware of his struggles was a promising sign about his own state.

"Charlie really wants to make this show good," adds a source, "and he has a lot riding on having it be successful."