Sheen's "runaway train" leads to semi-sanity


Last year, Charlie Sheen was taking us on his magical mental tour.

And now. Well, his "Anger Management" (Thursdays on FX) is fairly funny and his life is semi-sane. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

LOS ANGELES-- Mistakes are good,
we're told, because we learn from them.

In that case, Charlie Sheen is one
lucky guy, with so many to learn from.

“I learned a lot,” Sheen told
reporters. “I learned: Stick to what you know. Don't go on the road
with a one-man show in 33 days in 21 cities, with no act.”

He learned that last year during his
public breakdown. After refusing rehab and being fired from one of
TV's best-paying jobs, he had a spree of interviews and Tweets, plus
that one-man show.

“It was a crazy time,” Sheen said,
drawing no arguments. “It was sort of like a dream I couldn't wake
up from or some runaway train I couldn't get off of – but I was the
conductor.”

And now? “My life's different now
that I'm not insane any more,” Sheen said. “Pretty accountable,
most of the time.”

Also, almost over-employed. His “Anger
Management” show is being done on a hurry-up schedule, taping two
episodes a week. The contract says that if ratings hit a specified
mark in the first 10 episodes, the FX network will instantly order 90
more. “The odds are overwhelming” that the show will get the
order, said FX chief John Landgraf.

In a TV world that frets about getting
an order for a “back nine” (to complete a 22-episode season),
that's something. “It's daunting when they tell you you've got the
back 90,” said Bruce Helford.

He's produced successful comedies for
Drew Carey and George Lopez, but this was different. It began with
the notion of adapting Jack Nicholson's “Anger Management”
movie.”Really, the title is pretty much what is left of that,”
Helford said.

The show has Sheen as an
anger-management therapist. It gives him a funny therapy group,
ranging from the intense Lacey (Noureen DeWulf, 28) to the laidback
Ed (Barry Corbin, 71). It also gives him a bartender (Brett Butler),
a therapist-and-lover (Selma Blair) and an ex-wife (Shawnee Smith).

And soon, we'll meet his rascal-type
dad – played, logically, by Sheen's real father, Martin Sheen.

In real life, Charlie Sheen says, there
were no daddy issues. “He was great; he was awesome …. He was a
regular dad, except he just took us all over the world, making
movies.”

That included “Apocalypse Now,”
sprawling and imposing. “It's the greatest film ever made,” said
Charlie Sheen, who was 13 when it opened. “I was there for half of
it when it was being shot ….

“I learned a lot about life. I
learned a lot about survival. And yeah, it was just one of the
experiences you can't plan or ever really completely understand why
it happened.”

There would be more such experiences,
on this runaway train he's sort of conducting.

– “Anger Management,” FX

--New episodes at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays,
rerunning at 12:30 a.m.; previous episode reruns at 9 p.m.