Subdued Charlie Sheen talks new show with TV critics

Charlie Sheen had none of his "tiger blood" bluster when he emerged to meet the television press for the first time since his stormy Two and a Half Men exit.
Anger Management executive producer Bruce Helford, left, poses with actor Charlie Sheen at Fox's party at Castle Green in Pasadena, Calif. on Sunday. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Charlie Sheen had none of his "tiger blood" bluster when he emerged to meet the television press for the first time since his stormy Two and a Half Men exit.

The 46-year-old actor was a last-minute addition to the roster of stars attending a Fox party on Sunday coinciding with the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

While actors from Glee, New Girl, Raising Hope and other shows walked the red carpet out front of the Castle Green in Pasadena, Sheen was quietly brought in through the back, where he held court at an ordinary outdoor patio table. Only a full moon offered any illumination as Sheen sat next to Bruce Helford, the veteran TV showrunner who will executive produce his upcoming FX series Anger Management, coming to CTV in Canada.

A small group of critics were invited to pitch questions to Sheen and a bodyguard made sure everyone kept a respectful distance while Kiefer Sutherland -- at the event to promote his upcoming Fox series Touch — said a quick hi to Sheen. The actors were known to raise a little hell back in their bad old days on the set of Young Guns in 1988.

"He's a super guy," Sheen said later. "We threaten to get together and never do. This time we're going to."

No apologies

Soft spoken and polite, Sheen made no apologies for his bizarre behaviour last winter but did seem to be stepping back from the "warlock" stance that eventually got him fired from Two and a Half Men.

"It was about what had been going on all those years on the set," he said, suggesting executive producer Chuck Lorre rarely allowed any creative input from the actors.

"It was also about the pressure of 30 years in the business and finally saying all the things that were on my mind — and I said them all at once and it created a tsunami of bizarre proportions."

Sheen said the battle was one of principle.

"The reason I pushed it was I knew I was right in my stand," he said. "Right about what they had done.... That's why I pushed it so hard, because I knew there was victory at the end." 

Sheen eventually won a financial severance for his premature departure from the series. The actor said he has seen his old sitcom, now starring Ashton Kutcher, once or twice this season, looking at it more as as a pilot for a new show.

"I thought it was funny," he said.

He hasn't spoken with former cast members but has traded text messaged with Jon Cryer. He has heard from crew members, many who indicated they miss him.

'No fart jokes'

Asked how his new series will differ from his old one, he said: "There'll be no fart jokes ... no poo-poo jokes." Sheen has said in the past that he was tired of the vulgar tone of the CBS sitcom. 

In Anger Management, Sheen will play a counsellor named Charlie, who has an ex-wife, a 13-year-old daughter and his own therapist. Besides running a private practice, he counsels at both a men's and women's prison.

"The idea, like most shows about therapists," said Helford, "is that his life is more screwed up than his patients."

Helford previously was a showrunner on The Drew Carey Show and has written and produced sitcoms starring Roseanne Barr, George Lopez and Norm Macdonald.

"I've almost always worked with stand ups," said Helford. "Charlie's a solid actor, besides being really comedic. You don't usually get that mix together."

Spring production start

Casting on the new series begins next week and shooting is scheduled to begin in March and April. Instead of the usual pilot, 10 episodes have been ordered. When they air on FX (probably this summer), if they hit an undisclosed audience number, a deal for 90 more episodes will kick in — an unprecedented commitment for a cable network.

While it would normally take five seasons to reach 100 episodes, the Anger Management team plans to race through them in a year and a half. They will be shot multiple camera, with no studio audience. Sheen plans to promote the series through his Twitter account despite a recent social network mishap.

"It got unwieldy the other night when my tweet master put my phone number on the Internet," he said.

The posting drew 498 texts and 320 phone calls in 31 minutes, he added. Sheen said one text was so mean-spirited he called the person back.

"Hey man, it's Charlie," he said on the cold call. The response, said Sheen, was a click.