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Sheen sells ‘Anger’ at NATPE

Lionsgate's Packer: Show among its all-time bestsellers

At Monday night’s blowout party for “Anger Management,” Charlie Sheen was, for the first time in a while, a picture of contentment. “I’m excited to be in a work environment that’s a playground for the imagination and not a f—ing, you know, a quagmire of oppression,” Sheen told Variety at the Fontainebleau Resort’s Arkadia nightclub.

The party capped off the first full day of NATPE, and, as Lionsgate’s TV and digital distrib topper Jim Packer put it later, “A little bit of the you-can-still-have-fun-and-work came back.” Along with Starz skein “Boss,” Sheen’s first post-“Two and a Half Men” project has generated plenty of interest for Lionsgate at the show. “Anger Management” distrib Debmar-Mercury, which hosted the party, is hoping to follow the model it has used with Tyler Perry’s TBS comedies, which calls for the show to segue quickly into syndication with a whopping 100-episode order if the initial 10-episode run on FX delivers credible ratings.

“The last few years at NATPE have been a slog and everybody’s wondering if we’re going to make it, but to see Katie Couric want to come hang out with Charlie Sheen. … I just felt like we were the cool kid, the hipster at the bar.”

Nobody threw a true bacchanal at NATPE last year, but the “Anger Management” party was one for the books. Local live entertainment company Zhantra supplied two girls in full-blown mermaid gear to swim in the club’s extravagant pool and pout for the camera while guests posed with them. Other models were “living tables,” extending like centerpieces from the center of tables loaded with wine and champagne.

“The bash was mostly to say thank you,” Packer said Tuesday morning, adding that “Anger Management” is “going to be one of the best-selling shows we’ve ever had.”

The series is a smallscreen version of the 2003 Jack Nicholson/Adam Sandler starrer and features Sheen as a therapist whose counseling methods cause his patients plenty of problems. It’s run by writer-producer Bruce Helford, a crucial pick after Sheen’s public falling out with “Men” co-creator Chuck Lorre, and Sheen has nothing but praise for his new boss, whom he called “the best showrunner in the business.”

Packer said he has faith in Sheen’s ability to deliver the goods, despite the “Men” meltdown. “Regardless of what you think of what happened, the guy made hundreds of episodes of television,” Packer said. “We trust he can deliver a show. Assuming he doesn’t have his problems, he can deliver a hundred episodes.”

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