PASADENA, Calif. — Charlie Sheen can be the life of a party, but he also knows how to steal focus.
When he showed up recently at a Fox networks event for reporters — a room filled with talent from "Glee," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "House," among others — he made a beeline for the back and outdoors. The media gave chase, eventually forming a cocoon around him as he held court to talk about his new weekly FX comedy "Anger Management" (9 p.m. Thursday).
Journalists clung to his every word — and cigarette puff — as he talked about his heavily hyped return to series TV. His swagger was an avatar of cool, much like the Las Vegas bad boy days of a Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Reporters laughed at anything that Sheen made into a small aside while others asked questions posed as analytical phrasings.
Understanding Sheen, the scandal-ridden 46-year-old actor known more for his eccentric behavior than most of his work (outside of his years on the CBS smash "Two and a Half Men"), isn't that difficult.
In the new comedy, "he plays a character with his own anger issues," says co-creator Bruce Helford, whose resume includes "Roseanne" and "The Drew Carey Show."
In "Management," Sheen plays Charlie Goodson, a past minor-league baseball player who deals with past anger issues and helps others as a "nontraditional" therapist. His work and personal life are complicated by well-meaning friends and family. As traditional as the show may sound in concept, Sheen doesn't always want to be obvious with the comedy.
"He is in anger management therapy. He's dealing with his demons, and he's dealing with his past demons he's created," Helford said. "He's a way more complicated character" than the one Sheen played on "Men."
Helford is no stranger to working with problematic talent backstage. Sheen said he feels respected working with Helford, a man who will listen to Sheen's input before making decisions.
Make no mistake. Sheen is perfectly content making bodily fluid jokes or going beyond just sexual innuendo for "Management."
However, "we're not going to do the obvious," Sheen said. "(Helford) has said, 'I won't make you say something you never want to say.' I said, 'I'm never going to not say something that is written.
"We need to hear it and then make a decision. We both showed up (on this show) on the same page."
Sheen will be facing issues familiar to him personally on "Management," his tendency to lash out and his party boys ways.
He relishes the thought of digging into those areas. FX is giving Sheen's show 10 episodes. If the audience laps it up, the series could get 90 more episodes to make.
As for the past year of his life, Sheen has learned a few things. Among them: "It is what it was. I started to figure out (with the media) that I had to work with them and not against them.
"I had to choose wisely and take a little bit longer before I speak."
Other highlights for the week of June 24-30 (Listings are subject to change; Check local listings):
n "The Newsroom" (10 p.m. HBO). A network news anchor returns to work after a public meltdown to find the landscape his changed — and not for the better. Aaron Sorkin (of "West Wing") is the creator of this new drama with Jeff Daniels.
n "MeWhatever happened to East Tennessee teenager Chris Crocker, who became famous fleetingly for his "Leave Britney Alone" Internet video and other rants?
n "Final Witness" (10 p.m. ABC). In this true-crime reenactment series, the story of a murder is told from the victim's point of view.
n "Trip Flip" (9 p.m. Weather Channel). Travel expert Bert Kreischer gets random strangers to join him on adventurous destinations.
n "Wilfred" (10 p.m. FX). Robin Williams pops up in the season opener of the talking-dog-is-a-man's-best-enemy sitcom.
n "Strangely Uplifting" (11 p.m. FX). Russell Brand is the host of this new late-night talk and comedy series.
FRIDAYn "Chasing UFOs" (9 p.m. National Geographic Channel). A team of investigators make it their mission to get to the bottom of unexplained UFO sightings for this new series.
SATURDAYn "Bigfoot" (9 p.m. SyFy). '70s TV stars Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams fight over the legend in this movie.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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