Exec explains decision to hire controversial actor

Lionsgate TV Group prexy Kevin Beggs addressed his company’s decision to get into the sitcom biz with Charlie Sheen during Tuesday’s Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s State of the industry luncheon sesh with top execs.

“It’s not as much a risk as you think,” Beggs said. “There’s risk in everything you do, but with the team we’re putting in place, we’re going to insulate ourselves the best we can.”

Beggs cited several factors to help manage risk with Sheen, who announced Monday he’s set to star in a sitcom adaptation of the pic “Anger Management” with Lionsgate’s distribution arm, Debmar-Mercury, and Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios.

In addition to adopting a business model Debmar-Mercury has successfully deployed on cable, Beggs talked up a compressed production time period that cranks out episodes. “If Charlie Sheen isn’t a good fit with ‘Anger Management,’ then we don’t know what we’re doing,” Beggs said. He called the actor a “consummate professional” despite the erratic behavior and public tirades that led to his firing from CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” in March.

Also on the panel was MTV Networks Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog, who noted that he’d be open to considering the Sheen show on one of his cablers, which include Comedy Central and Spike TV. Sheen is already scheduled to appear on Comedy Central in September as the subject of this year’s roast spesh.

“We’re going to be in the Charlie Sheen business for one night, and it’s going to be great,” Herzog said.

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