Russell Brand and Charlie Sheen Discuss Their FX Shows at TCA
BEVERLY HILLS, CA-- Tonight (Thursday) is the final night of the initial six-episode test run for Russell Brand's late night series BrandX. It airs on FX at 11 p.m. ET.
The cable network already has ordered seven more episodes featuring the blunt Brit, although the series has been drawing ony so-so ratings. The new episodes will premiere in October.
The problem, as I see it, is harnessing Brand's kinetic mental and physical energy into some sort of coherent format. When I tune in, I feel like I've missed the beginning of the show, that it kind of starts in the middle.
Brand suggested changes will be coming. Right now, he interacts with his studio audience in what looks like a high school theatre. He riffs on the news, throwing headlines around, distilling it through his active mind and seeing what sticks. That approach has been hit and miss.
Maybe they should start the show with Brand at a desk like Jon Stewart, then have him kick it over. Maybe they should just follow him around as he rants, a half hour version of Rick Mercer's bit.
Or they should just shoot Brand's press tour sessions. They're bloody brilliant, hilarious, although most of the content probably would not pass muster with standards and practices.
Brand had critics in stitches last week as he succinctly summed up the appeal of Sarah Palin, this tour's hot button after her distracting NBC party appearance.
"I think the reason Sarah Palin has been so long tolerated is because of the latent inquisition around the vagina." Critics seemed stumped; this was cryptic even by Brand's elastic standards.
Brand broke it down for us. "People want to f--- her, don't they?"
As Homer Simpson once said, "it's funny because it's true."
"That's why you tolerate the other stuff," he continued on Palin. "You think, okay, that is a mad thing to say about seeing Russia out your window, but the dick don't lie."
FX head of publicity John Solberg was standing at the podium, trying not to wince. The session was already into overtime. "John, you could have had me out of here before I said that," Brand pointed out. "That's all they're going to write about now. I was trying to get 'Changes to the format.' Now, all of a sudden, 'I'd f--- Sarah Palin.'"
The dick don't lie.
FX has this unusual deal with the producers of Charlie Sheen's new FX sitcom, Anger Management, to automatically order an additional 90 episodes of the series should the first 10 maintain a high ratings level.
FX president John Landgraf told reporters last week that, so far, Sheen is drawing more than enough for renewal. "Anger Management has been the No. 1 scripted comedy in cable, season-to-date, and it's averaging 13.8 million total viewers and 7.1 million adults 18-49 per week," he says.
Landgraf revealed that ratings results for the first two episodes were thrown out. Sheen's "Winning!" and "warlock blood" ravings during his lost year guaranteed he'd get a huge early sample, tilting the odds.
Episodes 3 through 6, however, "have exceeded the ratings threshold that's required for a back 90 renewal," he said. Episode 7 airs tonight (Thursday) at 9:30 p.m. ET on FX. Landgraf says there is every indication the series will get picked up, although no decision will be made until all 10 from the initial order have aired.
One hiccup ahead: tonight and next week, Anger Management must battle NBC's Olympic coverage for U.S. viewers, which could put a dent in FX's momentum.
Landgraf also announced that Charlie's dad, Martin Sheen (The West Wing), will become a series regular (he guests on Episode 9). He'll play Charlie's dad, which shouldn't be a stretch. Charlie's character, by the way, is named "Charlie Goodson."
A clip was shown of Sheen and Sheen on the set, with Senior doing his spot-on Brando impersonation from Apocalypse Now.
Charlie previously worked with his dad on Spin City and Two and a Half Men. Also in the clip as a bartender was Brett Butler, the stand-up comedienne fired from her own series Grace Under Fire. Sheen's EP, Bruce Helford, (with Sheen, above) survived previous showrunning stints with Norm Macdonald and Roseanne. He's now just a Cybill Shepherd away from winning the Nobel Peace prize.
As for his own career freak out last year, the younger Sheen said, "My life's different now that I'm not insane anymore. Pretty accountable most of the time. Right, Bruce?"