With the Producers Guild Norman Lear Achievement award now set to decorate his kudos shelf, the king of comedy isn’t retiring from his throne anytime soon. Chuck Lorre, co-creator of CBS’ juggernaut comedies, is cruising into 2014 with three series comfortably seated on the Eye’s primetime lineup: “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men” and freshman Anna Faris starrer “Mom,” which got off to a solid start last fall despite a softer lead-in with “Two Broke Girls.” Lorre also serves as exec producer on the Eye’s “Mike & Molly.”
“I know that the daily effort of making a show is don’t waste a second of screen time,” Lorre said during Variety’s TV Summit in 2013. “That’s probably a mantra that I’ve believed in since I got in the business 25 some odd years ago. Don’t waste a second of screen time if you have an opportunity to put a show that big in front of a global, national audience — don’t waste their time. The implicit contract that’s made between a half-hour comedy and the audience is laughter. I won’t watch unless I’m laughing. If the audience isn’t actually laughing, then you’ve broken the contract. As the writer-producer you’ve not fulfilled your end of the bargain.”
“Big Bang Theory” especially has exceeded the bargain expectations of a network comedy, drawing record-breaking ratings in its seventh season on CBS, a point in a series where many shows lose steam.
“Big Bang Theory” averages a whopping 23 million viewers with L+7 numbers, which translates into live viewing plus DVR and VOD views taken over a seven-day period, and reruns of the comedy on TBS outperform original cable programming, as well.
“Two and a Half Men” has seen 11 seasons on CBS, and remains a strong performer despite the highly publicized departure of Charlie Sheen and the casting of Ashton Kutcher, a debacle from which Lorre still feels ripples but handles with charm and an affable sensibility.
From the biz end, Lorre is one of the most profitable writer-producers in Warner Bros.’ stables. The studio locked the prolific TV creator down with a lucrative four-year development and production deal in 2012 that spans into feature film, a realm that is relatively unexplored for Lorre. Now a brand name in the television space, Lorre’s journey to the top is not slowing, after rising to notoriety with earlier comedies “Grace Under Fire,” “Cybill” and “Dharma & Greg.”
Avoiding micro-management in his expansive slate of active shows is one of the keys to Lorre’s success.
“Try to keep the bar as high as you can,” he advises, “but get out of the way, too.”