Charlie Sheen's FX laffer set for fall 2014 off-net bow
The second half of Charlie Sheen’s comeback bid has been set as a clutch of Fox O&Os have picked up off-net rights to his FX sitcom “Anger Management” for a fall 2014 start.The pact, which Fox and “Anger Management” distrib Debmar Mercury unveiled Wednesday, calls for Fox O&Os in nine top markets, including Gotham, L.A. and Chicago, to carry the show. “Anger Management” is produced by Lionsgate TV and Debmar Mercury on an accelerated timetable designed to allow the show to move to syndication more quickly than a typical network sitcom. It’s a formula Debmar Mercury pioneered for laffers produced by Tyler Perry and other partners. “Anger Management” did solid business for FX during its initial 10-episode run this summer. As part of the Debmar Mercury formula, FX gave the show a 90-episode renewal, ensuring that it hits the 100-episode threshold within two years. “Typical wisdom says off-cable shows aren’t right for general syndication, but that’s way too narrow minded for today’s reality,” said Frank Cicha, senior veep of programming for Fox Television Stations. “When a program produces these ratings, regardless of the platform, you have to take it seriously. We did, and we expect ‘Anger Management’ to be a key piece of our sitcom dominance for years to come.” Debmar Mercury toppers Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus touted the male-skewing comedy’s strong prospects in syndication. Sheen’s previous sitcom, “Two and a Half Men,” has been a off-net juggernaut, for broadcast stations and FX, for more than five years. The Fox stations already have an arsenal of off-net rights to comedies locked up for the next few years. “The Big Bang Theory” bowed in syndication on Fox O&Os last year, and on deck for fall 2013 is “Modern Family.” “Anger Management” undoubtedly sold for far lower license fees than the record-setting prices fetched by “Modern Family” and “Big Bang Theory,” but it will make a tidy profit for Sheen and producers. The show sold for cash and barter advertising time, which will add considerably to the bottom line, depending on how the show performs ratings-wise. “Fox is acquiring today’s most valuable sitcoms, and a broad-based, male-driven sitcom like ‘Anger Management’ will play perfectly with both ‘Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Modern Family’ on Fox stations in major markets,” Bernstein and Marcus said. “‘Anger Management’ achieved record-breaking ratings on FX and we believe it will perform extremely well in off-network syndication.” Bruce Helford is showrunner of “Anger Management” and exec produces with Sheen, Mark Burg, Joe Roth, Vince Totino and Dave Caplan.