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Brett Butler carving out comeback trail by joining Charlie Sheen’s FX sitcom ‘Anger Management’ starting June 28

Brett Butler is joining Charlie Sheen on his new FX show "Anger Management." CREDIT: FX

Brett Butler is joining Charlie Sheen on his new FX show "Anger Management." CREDIT: FX

What did you think of "Anger Management"?

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Marietta native Brett Butler and Charlie Sheen have a lot in common.

Both actors starred in sitcoms created by Chuck Lorre. Both had run-ins with Lorre. Both had substance-abuse problems that led to their departures from said sitcoms. Both share the same manager.

And now both are on the same new sitcom on FX: “Anger Management,” debuting at 9 p.m. Thursday, June 28.

Butler, 54, plays a recurring role as a bartender, dispensing jokes — along with drinks and advice — to Sheen’s deliberately ironic role as an anger management therapist. (Sheen was fired last year from CBS’s “Two and a Half Men” after entering substance rehabilitation and publicly lambasting Lorre.)

“I knew I wanted her on the show,” said Sheen while appearing with Butler as guests on “The Wendy Williams Show” earlier this week. “I wanted to welcome her back to television where she belongs. To have an expert of her caliber back there is just aces.”

Butler, a stand-up comic, broke into TV in a big way in 1993, starring in her own ABC comedy “Grace Under Fire,” playing a sharp-tongued single mom. But her addiction to painkillers impacted the show and led to its premature demise after five seasons.

“It’s amazing, not just that I didn’t die, but that somebody didn’t kill me,” Butler told TV Guide last year. “The Hollywood experience is so surreal to begin with. To add drugs to it, it’s like you’re inside a kaleidoscope. And by the time I started feeling besieged, it was much worse than I knew.”

For much of the past decade, she had lived in semi-exile in northwest Georgia on a farm in Floyd County. According to a story in the Hollywood Reporter last year, she ran out of money at one point and lived in a homeless shelter.

She is now trying to make a comeback in Hollywood, which included a recent appearance on CBS’s “The Young and the Restless.”

Butler, who was not available for an interview, told talk show host Williams she has been sober for 13 years. “I’m kind of boring now. Sobriety is good.”

When Williams asked Butler and Sheen about the similar problems each has faced, Butler said, “We really don’t talk about it.”

Bruce Helford, executive producer of “Anger Management,” said Butler was “sweet as can be” during the show’s taping. “We’re happy to reintroduce her back to the TV audience.”

The first episode dispenses with his past quickly. It starts with Sheen, close up to the camera, yelling at someone:

“You can’t fire me. I quit!

You think you can replace me with another guy. Go ahead, it won’t be the same.”

“You may think I’m losing, I’m …”

We pull back and find out Sheen is doing an anger management exercise.

Unlike “Two and a Half Men,” this is Sheen’s concept, with his creative imput. “I run every story by him,” Helford said. “He can bring Denise Richards [his ex] to the show. He has hid dad Martin on the show. I want him to be invested in the show. He told me he had more fun taping this show over six weeks than he did for eight years on ‘Two and a Half Men.’ ”

Helford said he “wanted to make Charlie’s character smarter and more complex” than the one on “Two and a Half Men,” Helford said. “He’s more evolved. He’s sophisticated and educated.”

He said Sheen noted, while reading the scripts, “Wow! I’ve got something to say besides joking about girls.”

“Anger Management” is very much a conventional three-camera sitcom, compared to the edgier fare FX usually doles out such as “Louie” and “Wilfred.” But this show will air at 9 p.m. as opposed to 10 or 10:30 p.m. “The idea is to have something that won’t be so odd for the audience coming out of earlier programming,” he said (including repeats of “Two and a Half Men.”)

The show’s financial model is similar to that pioneered by Tyler Perry: a test run of ten episodes, followed by 90 episodes guaranteed if it does well. This way, a decent syndication run can be shot in just one year with two episodes taped a week.  The trade-off: no live audience. But they do screen it before a live audience after the fact to generate genuine laughs.

Sheen, who gets in trouble when left idle, joked with Helford that he wants to be kept busy. If the show does well and gets those 90 extra episodes, he will indeed be busy for a year.

TV preview

“Anger Management”

9 p.m. Thursdays, FX.

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

40 comments Add your comment

Highlander

June 28th, 2012
7:00 am

If Chuck Lorre is honest with himself, he’ll probably admit he made a mistake. Ashton’s character on Two And A Half Men isn’t believable and Jon Cryer’s character has been made even more smarmy and unlikeable.

But I don’t think Lorre will ever admit that Sheen really made the show what it was. Especially as long as he has Big Bang Theory to take his mind off of “…Men”s ratings decline.

The Truth

June 28th, 2012
9:58 am

Somebody told us those morning shows are all the same….”laugh at everything, talk at the same time, self-promotion and always say xxx coming up next…which of course never comes up until 8:50″. But then, the average iq of the viewers????

STH

June 28th, 2012
3:24 pm

I had honestly been wondering about what happened to Brett Butler, because I really did enjoy Grace Under Fire. I’m glad that she’s sober and getting another chance to go on-camera, because she’s quite talented at what she does!

Whatever

June 28th, 2012
4:42 pm

Oh thank goodness.

When I saw the headline Brett Butler Making a Comeback, I thought you meant the ex Braves baseball player.

He was good, but its been 25 years.

outstanding

June 28th, 2012
4:49 pm

lol with Whatever! Cause I did the same thing. I was thinking (before I clicked the link) give me some of whatever Brett is taking if he is making a comeback.

teacher

June 28th, 2012
5:26 pm

Great minds think alike! I also thought it was the ex-Braves player.

jdl2

June 28th, 2012
8:57 pm

Brett, you go girl! Congrats!

jules

June 28th, 2012
10:03 pm

Our cable went out right before show started!! TIME WARNER SUX AND IS WAY OVER PRICED!!!!!!!!! :( :( :( :(

squirrelly McCheesy Pon Pon Poin

June 28th, 2012
10:17 pm

Jules, Cable…really? The world is at your fingertips….tap tap tap

Chuck Allison

June 28th, 2012
10:52 pm

You shouldn’t throw out the name Brett Butler without explaining that you don’t mean the real Brett Butler; who was a Braves Center Fielder. That is like saying UGA hired John Lewis as University President but not mention that it was not the congressman.

Chuck Allison

June 28th, 2012
10:53 pm

Wait a minute! Is this a girl named Brett? Kind of like a boy named Sue?

Alex Cartwright

June 28th, 2012
11:27 pm

Brett Butler was named after Lady Brett Ashley in “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway. Yes, Brett can be a girls name. Also this is an entertainment blog. Why would Rodney write about ex Brave Brett Butler unless he was in a movie?

Rodney Ho

June 29th, 2012
12:08 am

@Alex Cartwright Some folks read the headline off ajc.com and took the reasonable assumption (from a sports point of view) that it’s the baseball player, not the actress/comic. Both were popular around the same time so my bet is this confusion happened all the time in the past.

dagadawgs

June 29th, 2012
7:09 am

She looks old and that show wil be lucky to make it past its 10 episodes. I actually liked him in Two and a half men. This show not so much

Meljimm

June 29th, 2012
7:30 am

Sheen playing a responsible parent? Maybe this show will help him with that. Needed more snappy repartee’ between the members of his home therapy group and much more Brett Butler. She had the best lines on the show! Sheen looks more in character in his house arrest Fiat commercial.–THAT I would be interested in watching.

ehhh

June 29th, 2012
9:06 am

how about a vote for ehh, typical sitcom that won’t make it for more than 2 seasons. It had a few funny moments, but really not a homerun, for that matter, not even a double. Mediocre comedy at it’s best.

DanJ

June 29th, 2012
9:22 am

I liked the show although I found it similar in dialog to Two And A Half Men. On FX it will do well if Charlie can stay clean.

Charlie who?

June 29th, 2012
9:23 am

Does this effect my life?

Raul

June 29th, 2012
9:26 am

It was good! Great to see Charlie back! Selma Blair=FINE! Ashton SUX!!!!!!

ok

June 29th, 2012
9:42 am

I was a fan of 2 1/2 Men. His latest show seems ‘forced’ somehow. Just doesn’t quite do it for me. I will watch again but something just not right. Maybe it is because his act is worn out and just isn’t funny any more. He does better just being himself – not acting as himself.

J.R.

June 29th, 2012
9:45 am

I agree with DanJ, it mimics 2.5 Men a little too much, but all things considered I liked it. I think once the characters are all established and fully developed it’ll be a good show. I just hope Charlie doesn’t lose his mind again.

Alex Cartwright

June 29th, 2012
9:47 am

Sure Rodney. I understand. I really just wanted to make a point about Brett being a girls name. Just like Alex can go either way. I think a good dtory would be about the singalong/ Rock Horror style of movie this past Sunday at the Fox- The Sound of Music – a classic got weird.. just sayin’ Good job Rodney

BulldogBen

June 29th, 2012
9:50 am

Why would anyone watch this idiot? What’s been lost here is that Two and a Half Men was one of the worst shows of all time. America Fail.

Cammi317

June 29th, 2012
9:54 am

Like everyone else, I thought you were talking about the sports figure. I didn’t watch Anger Management, but I plan to check it out. I don’t watch 2 1/2 Men anymore since Charlie Sheen left. I may have seen 5 minutes of an episode at the beginning of the season. I did not find it interesting. Thank goodness I have the earlier seasons on DVD.

Patty

June 29th, 2012
9:55 am

This new show is just more of the same…random sex, drinking and just plain old gutteral behavior. I watched last night and was not impressed. Charlie Sheen has yet to grow.

Peter M

June 29th, 2012
10:25 am

I thought Charlie Sheen was dead. Might as well be as he doesn’t event exist as far as I’m concerned.

Julie

June 29th, 2012
10:33 am

Didn’t watch it, will never watch it.

charliefan

June 29th, 2012
11:14 am

I liked the show. Not so crazy about the network-too much bs. I liked all the characters but the crazy stalker chick. Brett did a great job and and ex-wife (name? I know her, but not from where) was great. I’ll definately give it another shot, but I’d rather tvio it to avoid the commercials!

Jenna

June 29th, 2012
11:35 am

Why do we continue to reward celebrities for their craziness? Sheen is a drugged-out, addle-brained loser and what do we do? We heap praise on him and reward him with more success. Want to know why our youth are so misguided and lost with precious few morals and ethics? Look in the mirror those of you who support this type of behavior by standing behind losers like Charlie Sheen.

Charmaine18

June 29th, 2012
11:43 am

I Absolutely LOVED the show, no room for improvement in my opinion. Just stay the same. Charlie does better without his predictable brother and nephew.

JKB

June 29th, 2012
11:46 am

Awesome, I was so glad to see Charlie back and the show was great. Too bad this show didn’t replace Two and a Half Men, Ashton sucks. I loved that show when Charlie was on it but make it go away now.

Kutcher the Butcher...

June 29th, 2012
11:54 am

I agree that Lorre’s tantrum in removing Sheen has come back to bite him. Kutcher stinks as a so-called ‘actor’. Lorre will never admit his mistake in cutting Sheen, though, and will take it to the grave.

I watched “Anger” and didn’t find it to be all that entertaining. Also, the set reminded me of “Two” and the background color? That hideous blue! Blech!

doodah

June 29th, 2012
11:57 am

Enter your comments here

doodah

June 29th, 2012
12:02 pm

I don’t know.. i just think about all the wonderful talent out there. And this troubled guy who represents the worse qualities gets another show. Guess it was about calling in favors and lets help this poor guy, but if he were acting, he’d be great. But he is not acting..well, I correct myself. Normally when someone is acting, he behaves more outrageous than he actually is. this guy’s act requires him to rein himself in. maybe that is the draw..part of me feels sorry for him. part of me wants him to go away.

Personal Protest

June 29th, 2012
12:07 pm

At first I was interested in watching it. Then the media blitz began on TV and the internet. Complete screen displays on Yahoo and even the AJC. It became such a PITA that I concluded it must be a bomb of a show to need such a media attack. I protested the show – and will continue to do so just because of the advertising. It’s a great show, my loss, but I’m guessing that it isn’t.

Aquarius

June 29th, 2012
12:25 pm

I used to love Two and a Half Men and watched it every week. Watched 3 episodes with the new guy and gave it up. Whether they want to admit it or not, Charlie Sheen made that show. It was hilarious with him in it, now it’s just corny. Diasppointed in Anger Management, did not find it funny at all. Doubt that I’ll watch it again.

Two And A Half Men Is My Show Charlie

June 29th, 2012
1:01 pm

Sorry Charlie, I didn’t see your new show. I love two & a half men. Your character was so funny & natural along with the other members of the cast. Lorre, suck it up & get Charlie back to where he belongs. High ratings & lots of $$$$$$$$. Yeah Charlie started making the money & with a mixture of drugs & alcohol, he was a complete JERK, but that being said, he was TWO & A HALF MEN! Charlie, come home!! We miss you. Ashton’s cute, but Charlie’s funny. I want to LAUGH!!

richard whiskey

June 30th, 2012
12:57 pm

who is brett butler?

Em

July 2nd, 2012
12:53 am

I have read comments that Lorre should feel bad about how he handled things. Why? Charlie has admitted he was messed up, why should they have to put up with that. Two and a Half Men is a dumb show and it’s ratings would decline anyway, whether he stayed or not.
I would just like it if this “actor” could play someone who isn’t named Charlie. Three sitcoms, all playing guys named Charlie. What a stretch.
Like the supporting cast, but can’t stand Charlie and the producer sounds like an idiot too.

Walter

July 2nd, 2012
5:08 pm

Not going to make it………If Sheen has to be in every scene and there is no other character development it is doomed. Sheen is trying too hard and talking very fast hard to pick up some of the jokes. So far, none of the other characters are worth paying attention to. I liked him in the earlier 2 & half men episodes even though he is a disgusting piece of garbage.