Charlie Sheen's New Comedy: 'An Absolute F---in' Rocket Ship to the Moon'
On site for NATPE, Sheen opens up about what went wrong on "Two and a Half Men" and why he's very happy with where he is now.
Amid a coterie of mermaids, goddesses and top level Lionsgate executives, Charlie Sheen was whisked to a cabana at Miami's Fountainebleau Monday to serve up some choice words about both his past and his future.
The latter includes Anger Management, his Bruce Helford-produced sitcom, which borrows little more than a name from the movie on which it shares a title. While the series, which has been offered a 10 episode test on FX this June, doesn't start production until March, Sheen has been actively involved in both the storylines and the casting. He took a break on this day to come east to peddle the comedy to potential syndicators and international buyers.
At one point during a shared interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sheen put down his cigarette and smiled: "What a weird year it was," he said, a tattoo that reads "winning" peeking out from his left sleeve. Here is an edited version of the discussion:
What was the appeal of Anger Management?
It’s been a combination of respect, admiration and involvement. That didn’t exist over [at Two and a Half Men.] I don’t want to harp on them. Let the clueless stay clueless... I was a puppet there for ratings. But whatever, I don’t care. I’ve moved on, and whatever they’re doing there is none of my business. Here, everybody is family.
What don't people know about this project?
Everyone thinks Bruce and I came up with this idea. Sorry, Bruce. It was Jon Feltheimer, [chief executive of Lionsgate] with Joe Roth behind him. Jon calls me into his office one day, and says, “I just had the greatest idea that I’ve had in 30 years: Anger Management.” I was like, “It was already a movie, dude.” And he says, “As a TV show. You play the lead.”
Jon Feltheimer wasn’t the only executive in town pitching ideas to you. What was it about his that made you say yes?
It would have been the same animal that we just finished [if i were to do a traditional 22 episode show elsewhere]. It kicked my a--. Too much wasted time. And that model is broken and it needs to be fixed. Now, Tyler Perry fixed it, but we’re just going to polish it a bit. I’ve never met Tyler, but he’s a freakin genius.
Tyler Perry operates under the Debmar Mercuy 10-90 model, in which 90 more episodes are ordered if the first 10 hit a certain ratings threshold...
I heard about [Debmar-Mercury's] fees and I thought it was larceny at first. Then you see you’re value, and it’s like, ‘Oh, I get it.’
Looking back now, what went wrong at Warner Brothers?
Warners was great; stage 26 was a mess. There’s an expression, ‘S--- roles down hill.’ It wasn’t about me, I was no. 3 on the stage. It went Chuck [Lorre], Lee [Aronson], me. Whatever started with Chuck rolled down to all of us. I’m not saying it was s---, but I’m not saying it was f---ing gold either. But whatever man, they’re doing their thing and I’m free from their bondage.
What do you think of the show with Ashton Kutcher?
I’ve done what he’s done. I’ve replaced a guy [on Spin City]. It’s so f---in hard, you can’t believe it. It’s all your thinking about and you’re surrounded by these ghosts. They physically changed the set [on Men] so that there’s not this subcionscious thing of it’s Charlie’s piano or its Charlie’s stuff. So hats off to [Ashton] for doing the best job that he can. I don’t think that he’s working with the best writing because [Lorre is] doing too many shows. He and Jon [Cryer] and Angus [T. Jones] deserve better material.
What can you tell us about the casting process so far?
It’s been really exciting, creative and very fulfilling. I feel like my vote counts again, like I matter. They care that they’ve got a guy who has a ton of experience doing this s---. I grew up on the set of Apocalypse, I can help a little, you know?
Have you made peace with all that's happened?
I don’t think [Two and a Half Men] should go on past this year. I just think that people are there because there’s nowhere else to go. Yet. And we [on Anger Management] will not disappoint. At this stage of the game, to deliver a turd? It’s not going to happen. It’s going to be an absolute f---in' rocket ship to the moon.