Chuck Lorre

Producer / Show Creator


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Chuck Lorre discusses his path from songwriter/musician to show creator/producer. He describes his childhood in Long Island, his college years at SUNY Potsdam, and being a guitar player/songwriter. He talks of his success writing songs like "French Kissin' in the U.S.A" and co-writing the theme song to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He shares how he got his start in television with DIC animation. Lorre speaks of writing for several animated shows, including Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, and recalls his first non-animated script that got picked up - for Charles in Charge. He discusses writing for My Two Dads and Roseanne, and recounts his experiences co-creating Grace Under Fire and Dharma & Greg. He details the creation and casting of Two and Half Men and comments on the controversy surrounding Seasons 8 and 9 of the show. He also discusses the creation and casting of The Big Bang Theory and Mike and Molly. Lorre shares what he's learned about the business of show business and defines what makes a "Chuck Lorre show." Nancy Harrington conducted the interview on February 25, 2012 in Pacific Palisades, CA.

"For better or worse, since I started I've thought that every second of airtime is precious. Every moment the show is on television, broadcasting to a national audience, now a global audience, is a precious second. Don't squander it. Either make people laugh, or entertain them on some level. Otherwise you're wasting an unbelievable opportunity."

Highlights
Chuck Lorre on Charlie Sheen's Two and a Half Men character: "We're all Alan hoping to become Charlie"
00:57
Chuck Lorre on casting Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men: "let's go away from Entourage and towards Mark Zuckerberg ... but gorgeous"
01:50
Chuck Lorre on co-writing the theme song to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
02:52
Chuck Lorre on his use of vanity cards: "it was a second of air time, why not use it?"
03:14
Chuck Lorre on casting Jim Parsons as "Sheldon" on The Big Bang Theory
01:39
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early childhood and influences; on his name change from Charles Levine to Chuck Lorre; on growing up in Long Island and working in his father's luncheonette; on inheriting his parents' sense of humor; on watching early television shows; on loving baseball as a kid and his early interest in music
On attending college at SUNY Potsdam; on being a guitar player and starting to write songs in the 1970s; on emulating Randy Newman in his songwriting; on his one hit song - "French Kissin' in the U.S.A"; on co-writing the theme song to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
On his transition to television - writing narration; on working for DIC Animation; on writing for the animated series Heathcliff; on what he learned from working in animation; on working for Marvel and on working for Jim Henson on Muppet Babies
On writing spec scripts for The Golden Girls, Miami Vice and the 1980's Twilight Zone; on his first non-animated scripts that got picked up - for Charles in Charge; on writing for My Two Dads; on pitching to Brandon Tartikoff; on abandoning an outline and doing his own script for My Two Dads
On writing for the then-number-one show in comedy, Roseanne

Chapter 2

On how he approached writing for Roseanne; on writing a script for Two and a Half Men; on how the best humor doesn't have to be over the top or have a moral lesson; on storylines on Roseanne that came from his life; on working for Carsey/Warner; on specific episodes of the series - Halloween episodes and others
On leaving Roseanne and writing a failed pilot for Carsey/Warner; on creating Grace Under Fire starring comedian Brett Butler; on dealing with spousal abuse in a comedy; on the writers room on Grace Under Fire; on the benefits of collaborating with other writers; on creating Cybill starring Cybil Shepherd and Christine Baranski
On creating Cybill starring Cybill Shepherd and Christine Baranski; on co-creating Dharma and Greg with Dottie Zicklin; on his use of vanity cards at the end of shows; on Dharma & Greg going off the air; on the interactive pilot Nathan's Choice
On creating Two and a Half Men; on casting Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men; on the show's premise; on how Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl changed things on Two and Half Men; on dealing with censorship; on the creative team of and typical production week on Two and a Half Men

Chapter 3

On a production week on Two and a Half Men; on casting Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Holland Taylor, and the rest of the cast of Two and a Half Men; on the original, unaired pilot; on being nominated for a GLAD award; on specific episodes; on the controversy on Two and Half Men in Season 8 and Charlie Sheen's departure from the show; on Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen; on the crossover episode between Two and Half Men and CSI; on the future of the show
On co-creating The Big Bang Theory and the premise of the show; on shooting multi-camera shows; on the theme song to The Big Bang Theory; on the cast and the unaired pilot; on the appeal of the series; on working with Jim Parsons
On creating Mike and Molly; on Mike and Molly really being the story of Marty; on casting Melissa McCarthy; on balancing three shows at one time; on his relationship with CBS; on what he's learned about the business side of show business; on his signature style; on projects in development

Chapter 4

On being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2012
On his advice to writers starting out; on the future of television; on highlights of his career; on where he'll be in ten years
Shows

Big Bang Theory, The

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Chuck Lorre on co-creating The Big Bang Theory; on casting the show
13:09

Breaking Bad

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Chuck Lorre on his admiration for great scripted cable shows
02:27

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

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Chuck Lorre on the crossover episode between Two and Half Men and CSI
01:55

Charles in Charge

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Chuck Lorre on his first non-animated scripts that got picked up - for Charles in Charge
00:59

Cybill

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Chuck Lorre on creating Cybill starring Cybill Shepherd and Christine Baranski
05:39

Dharma & Greg

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Chuck Lorre on co-creating Dharma & Greg with Dottie Zicklin
05:17
Chuck Lorre on Dharma & Greg going off the air
01:45

Everybody Loves Raymond

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Chuck Lorre on staying with the multi-camera comedy format in the wake of Everybody Loves Raymond
02:12

Golden Girls, The

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Chuck Lorre on writing spec scripts of The Golden Girls
00:08
Chuck Lorre on writing a spec script for The Golden Girls featuring Betty White
02:58

Grace Under Fire

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Chuck Lorre on how writing for Roseanne informed Grace Under Fire
00:57
Chuck Lorre on the back-story to creating Grace Under Fire, starring Brett Butler; on the premise
13:11

Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats

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Chuck Lorre on writing for the animated show Heathcliff
02:18

Jim Henson's Muppet Babies

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Chuck Lorre on an early job writing for Jim Henson's Muppet Babies; on working with Jim Henson
02:29

Miami Vice

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Chuck Lorre on writing a spec script of Miami Vice
00:19
Chuck Lorre on writing a spec script of Miami Vice that was "too funny"
00:47

Mike & Molly

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Chuck Lorre on creating Mike and Molly; on casting Melissa McCarthy
04:56

My Two Dads

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Chuck Lorre on writing for My Two Dads, originally called Who's Dad?
06:34
Chuck Lorre on abandoning an outline and doing his own script for My Two Dads
02:52

Roseanne

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Chuck Lorre on writing for the then-number-one show in comedy, Roseanne
05:30

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Chuck Lorre on co-writing the theme to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
02:52

Twilight Zone, The

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Chuck Lorre on writing spec scripts of the resurgence of The Twilight Zone in the 1980s
00:14

Two and a Half Men

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Chuck Lorre on his family life appearing in Two and a Half Men
00:44
Chuck Lorre on how Two and a Half Men came about as a result of Lee Aronshon needing to maintain his health insurance; on the show's premise
09:47
Chuck Lorre on Charlie Sheen's Two and a Half Men character: "We're all Alan hoping to become Charlie"
00:57
Chuck Lorre on co-writing the theme song for Two and a Half Men
00:57
Chuck Lorre on the creative team of and typical production week on Two and a Half Men
04:37
Chuck Lorre on writing a script for Two and a Half Men
00:53
Chuck Lorre on a production week and casting Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Holland Taylor, and the rest of the cast of Two and a Half Men
11:41
Chuck Lorre on dealing with gender issues on the Two and a Half Men episode "An Old Flame with a New Wick"
02:41
Chuck Lorre on the controversy on Two and Half Men in Season 8; on season 9
08:56
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Chuck Lorre on how Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl changed things on Two and Half Men; on dealing with censorship
01:57

Characters & Catchphrases

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Chuck Lorre on Brett Butler joining Grace Under Fire and using Brett's backstory as Grace's - spousal abuse
00:50

Fame and Celebrity

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Chuck Lorre on Roseanne Barr singing the National Anthem
00:21

LGBTQ

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Chuck Lorre on dealing with gender issues on the Two and a Half Men episode "An Old Flame with a New Wick"
02:41

Memorable Moments on Television

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Chuck Lorre on how Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl changed things on Two and Half Men; on dealing with censorship
01:57

TV Theme Songs

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Chuck Lorre on co-writing the theme song to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
00:16
Chuck Lorre on co-writing the theme song for Two and a Half Men
00:57
Chuck Lorre on the theme song to Big Bang Theory
01:20
Professions

Producers

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Chuck Lorre on balancing producing/creating three shows at once
01:53

Show Creators

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Chuck Lorre on balancing producing/creating three shows at once
01:53

Writers

View Profession
Chuck Lorre on writing for Roseanne
02:32
Chuck Lorre on writing for My Two Dads, originally called Who's Dad?
06:34
Chuck Lorre on the writers room on Grace Under Fire 
02:52
Chuck Lorre on the benefits of collaborating with other writers
02:02
Chuck Lorre on his advice to writers starting out
01:03
Genres

Animation

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Chuck Lorre on what he learned from working in animation
16:24

Comedy Series

View Genre
Chuck Lorre on writing for My Two Dads, originally called Who's Dad?
06:34
Chuck Lorre on writing for the then-number-one show in comedy, Roseanne
05:30
Chuck Lorre on creating Cybill starring Cybill Shepherd and Christine Baranski
05:39
Chuck Lorre on the back-story to creating Grace Under Fire, starring Brett Butler; on the premise
13:11
Chuck Lorre on co-creating Dharma & Greg with Dottie Zicklin
05:17
Chuck Lorre on creating and producing Two and a Half Men
16:18
Chuck Lorre on casting Two and a Half Men
22:56
Chuck Lorre on co-creating the Big Bang Theory; on casting the show
13:07
Chuck Lorre on creating Mike and Molly; on casting Melissa McCarthy
05:08
People

Lee Aronsohn

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Chuck Lorre on how Two and a Half Men came about as a result of Lee Aronshon needing to maintain his health insurance
04:00

Christine Baranski

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Chuck Lorre on creating Cybill starring Cybill Shepherd and Christine Baranski
05:39

Steven Bochco

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Chuck Lorre on what he's learned about the TV business - advice from Steven Bochco
02:33

Brett Butler

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Chuck Lorre on Brett Butler joining Grace Under Fire
09:33

Marcy Carsey

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Chuck Lorre on writing a failed pilot for Carsey/Warner
02:19
Chuck Lorre on working for Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on Roseanne; on what he learned from them about producing and casting
02:34

Jon Cryer

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Chuck Lorre on casting Jon Cryer on Two and a Half Men
02:56

Kaley Cuoco

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Chuck Lorre on working with Kaley Cuoco on The Big Bang Theory
00:54

Jay Daniel

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Chuck Lorre on getting on the writing staff for Roseanne
01:20

Blythe Danner

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Chuck Lorre on casting Blythe Danner playing the original mother on Two and a Half Men
00:50

Jenna Elfman

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Chuck Lorre on co-creating Dharma & Greg starring Jenna Elfman
05:17

Conchata Ferrell

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Chuck Lorre on casting Conchata Ferrell on Two and a Half Men
01:09

Johnny Galecki

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Chuck Lorre on working with Johnny Galecki on The Big Bang Theory
00:56

John Goodman

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Chuck Lorre on Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner wanting John Goodman for Roseanne
01:10

Hugh Grant

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Chuck Lorre on considering Hugh Grant as a replacement for Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men
01:42

Jim Henson

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Chuck Lorre on working for Jim Henson
02:29

Angus T. Jones

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Chuck Lorre on casting Angus T. Jones on Two and a Half Men
02:45

Ashton Kutcher

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Chuck Lorre on casting Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men: "let's go away from Entourage and towards Mark Zuckerberg ... but gorgeous"
01:50

Michael Mann

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Chuck Lorre on writing spec scripts of Miami Vice
00:19

Melissa McCarthy

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Chuck Lorre on casting Melissa McCarthy on Mike and Molly
01:24

Bob Meyer

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Chuck Lorre on how he learned to shape a writers room
02:52

Leslie Moonves

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Chuck Lorre on casting Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men: "let's go away from Entourage and towards Mark Zuckerberg ... but gorgeous"
01:50
Chuck Lorre on casting Angus T. Jones on Two and a Half Men
02:03
Chuck Lorre on his relationship with CBS
01:28

Chris O'Donnell

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Chuck Lorre on dealing with gender issues on the Two and a Half Men episode "An Old Flame with a New Wick"
02:41

Jim Parsons

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Chuck Lorre on working with Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory
00:58

Paul Reiser

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Chuck Lorre on writing for My Two Dads, originally called Who's Dad? starring Paul Reiser
01:01
Chuck Lorre on writing for My Two Dads, originally called Who's Dad? starring Paul Reiser
00:28

Roseanne

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Chuck Lorre on the environment on and writing for Roseanne
00:21

Charlie Sheen

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Chuck Lorre on casting Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men
01:35
Chuck Lorre on Charlie Sheen's Two and a Half Men character: "We're all Alan hoping to become Charlie"
00:57
Chuck Lorre on the controversy on Two and Half Men in Season 8
03:45

Cybill Shepherd

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Chuck Lorre on creating Cybill starring Cybill Shepherd
05:39

Brandon Tartikoff

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Chuck Lorre on writing for My Two Dads, originally called Who's Dad? and pitching to Brandon Tartikoff
03:00

Nina Tassler

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Chuck Lorre on Nina Tassler originally not picking up The Big Bang Theory
01:45

Holland Taylor

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Chuck Lorre on casting Holland Taylor on Two and a Half Men
00:50

Tom Werner

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Chuck Lorre on writing a failed pilot for Carsey/Warner
02:19
Chuck Lorre on working for Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on Roseanne; on what he learned from them about producing and casting
02:34

Betty White

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On writing a spec script for The Golden Girls featuring Betty White
02:58

Dottie Zicklin

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Chuck Lorre on co-creating Dharma & Greg with Dottie Zicklin
03:42

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