Lorre in September 2011
|Born||Charles Michael Levine
October 18, 1952
Bethpage, Long Island, New York
|Occupation||Writer, television producer, composer, television director, production manager|
|Notable work(s)||Grace Under Fire
Dharma & Greg
Two and a Half Men
The Big Bang Theory
|Net worth||$600 million (2011)|
|Spouse(s)||Paula Smith (1979-1992; divorced)
Karen Witter (2001-2010; divorced)
|Awards||BMI Television Music Awards 2004, 2005, 2008|
Chuck Lorre (born Charles Michael Levine; October 18, 1952) is an American television writer, director, producer and composer. Lorre has created many successful sitcoms since the 1990s including Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Mom. Lorre also served as an executive producer of Roseanne and Mike & Molly.
According to Lorre's website on "Vanity Card #119", he changed his name from Levine to Lorre at age twenty-six. His website explains why he changed his name:
The reason I changed my name was simple. My mother, never a fan of my father's family, had an unfortunate habit of using Levine as a stinging insult. When displeased with me, she would often say/shriek, "You know what you are? You're a Levine! A no good, rotten Levine!" So, for as far back as I can remember, every time I heard my last name I would experience acute feelings of low self-esteem. ..... My first wife was the one who suggested I change my name to remedy the situation. In fact, it was she who came up with the name Lorre, complete with the fancy spelling. I thought it sounded great. Chuck Lorre. Finally a name that did not make me squirm. It didn't occur to me that in England my new name translated into Chuck Truck. But most interestingly, I had completely forgotten that when I was around eight years old my father's business began to fail, forcing my mother to find work in a clothing store called... Lorie's. Pretty creepy, huh? Did I abandon my father's name only to unconsciously name myself after a place associated with my mother's abandonment of me? Or, even creepier, did my ex-wife somehow know all this and propose the name Lorre just to screw with me? Hmmm... I was a no good, rotten husband so I certainly had it coming.
After graduating from high school, Lorre attended State University of New York at Potsdam, dropping out after two years to pursue a career as a songwriter. During his two years at college he "majored in rock 'n' roll and pot and minored in LSD." He also admits to drinking heavily in his past, telling EW, "I led a dissolute youth until 47." He now is in recovery.
After leaving school, Lorre toured across the United States as a guitarist and songwriter. He wrote Deborah Harry's radio hit single "French Kissin' in the USA" for her 1986 Rockbird album. Lorre also composed the soundtrack to the 1987 television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Dennis Challen Brown. Lorre shifted into writing, being a writer on the show Roseanne.
Lorre's first show as creator was Grace Under Fire, starring comedienne Brett Butler. It premiered on ABC in 1993, and was nominated at the 52nd Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Lorre's second show was Cybill, starring Cybill Shepherd. The show aired for four seasons on CBS and received critical acclaim, winning a Primetime Emmy Award in 1995 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for co-star Christine Baranski. The show also won two Golden Globe Awards in 1996 for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy for Cybill Shepherd.
Lorre's third show was Dharma & Greg, which was premiered one year before the end of Cybill in 1997. The show starred Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson as the title characters, whose characters were complete opposites: Dharma's world view being more spiritual, 'free spirit' type instilled by "hippie" parents, contrasted with Greg's world view of structure, social status requirements, and "white collar duty" instilled by his generations of affluent parents/ancestors. Like the "yin/yang" symbol in every episode, each represents one of the 'polar opposites' that would seem to repel, but somehow strongly attract to create the most harmonious "whole". This comedy shows through metaphor in light daily living struggles, the deeper challenges of life/existence for which every human has struggled for generations. The show earned eight Golden Globe nominations, six Emmy Award nominations, and six Satellite Awards nominations. Elfman earned a Golden Globe in 1999 for Best Actress.
|“||Lorre ... has had more than his share of successes (e.g., Two and a Half Men, Grace Under Fire, Cybill) and headline-generating headaches (e.g., Two and a Half Men, Grace Under Fire, Cybill)||”|
—USA Today, 2013
Lorre's fourth show was Two and a Half Men with co-creater Lee Aronsohn. The show focuses on two Harper brothers, Charlie and Alan (Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer). Charlie is a rich, successful Hollywood composer/producer and womanizer who owns a beach house in Malibu. When Alan gets a divorce, he is forced to move into Charlie's house. Alan also has a growing son, Jake (Angus T. Jones), the "half" who comes to visit Charlie and Alan on weekends. The show premiered on CBS in 2003 and has become the highest-rated sitcom in America. However, CBS briefly canceled the show up until its eighth season following several incidents of production shutdowns allegedly due to Sheen's serious problems related to drug and alcohol abuse, which culminated in his verbal attacks directed at Lorre during a radio interview. Sheen was officially fired from the show, and later filed a $100 million lawsuit against Lorre and Warner Bros. Television for wrongful termination. Afterwards, CBS and Warner Bros. hired Ashton Kutcher as Sheen's replacement.
Lorre's fifth show was The Big Bang Theory with co-creator Bill Prady. The show follows two physicists with genius IQs and very low social skills who befriend their neighbor, an attractive young woman with an average IQ, no college education, and very high social skills. Each episode usually focuses on the daily lives of the men and two of their equally socially challenged yet highly brilliant friends, with a dose of absurdity from the relationship with their uneducated, but socially brilliant, neighbor. The two main protagonists, Sheldon and Leonard, are named after the actor and television producer Sheldon Leonard. The show premiered on CBS in 2007 and is the highest rated comedy series in America.
On the vanity card for Chuck Lorre Productions at the end of every episode of Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and Mom, Lorre includes a message that usually reads like an editorial, essay, or observation on life. A typical card might include a range of topics as diverse as what the Bee Gees never learned, the cancellation of Dharma & Greg, the competence of AOL Time Warner management, and the genesis of Two and a Half Men.
The card is shown for only a few seconds at most, so longer messages cannot be read unless recorded and paused, although Lorre now posts the cards on his website. CBS has censored Lorre's vanity cards on several occasions; Lorre posts both the censored and uncensored versions of the cards.
The vanity card used on Grace under Fire and Cybill featured a wooden desk with an Apple Macintosh SE.
The vanity cards often are unapologetically supportive of President Obama, and occasionally contain very anti-corporate or anti-war sentiments.
Lorre collected his vanity cards in a coffee table book titled "What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Bitter," released on October 16, 2012. The book takes its title from Vanity Card #1, which first aired following the first episode of Dharma & Greg.
During the Big Bang Theory episode titled "The Hook-Up Reverberation" Vanity card #463 was displayed. Vanity card #463 discussed Chuck's lost or matured angst along with the news that he will stop writing the vanity cards. Vanity card #464 was displayed in the next episode stating it was his last and that he felt like they would not be missed. On October 20, 2014, Vanity card #464 was displayed after Big Bang Theory a second time.
- Roseanne, 1990–1992, (writer, co-executive producer, supervising producer)
- Grace Under Fire, 1993–1998 (creator, writer, co-executive producer, supervising producer)
- Cybill, 1995–1998 (creator, writer, executive producer)
- Dharma & Greg, 1997–2002 (creator, writer, executive producer)
- Two and a Half Men, 2003–2015 (creator, writer, executive producer)
- The Big Bang Theory, 2007–present (creator, writer, executive producer)
- Mike & Molly, 2010–present (writer, executive producer)
- Mom, 2013–present (creator, writer, executive producer)
Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory are both taped at the Warner Brothers lot, in adjacent stages; the shows share several writers and technical crews. The Big Bang Theory has cast a number of alumni from Lorre's past series, starting with Johnny Galecki from Roseanne (he was Darlene's boyfriend and later husband). Sara Gilbert, who played Darlene on Roseanne, was Leslie Winkle on The Big Bang Theory. Laurie Metcalf, who played Jackie in Roseanne, plays Sheldon's mother Mary. Christine Baranski, an alumna of Cybill, was cast as Leonard's mother Beverly.
Also, on The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny are seen watching Oshikuru: Demon Samurai. Oshikuru was the show for which the character Charlie Harper wrote the theme song on Two and a Half Men. Charlie Sheen made a cameo appearance in the Big Bang Theory episode "The Griffin Equivalency".
Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men appeared in one episode of Dharma & Greg. Jenna Elfman, Susan Sullivan, and Joel Murray of Dharma & Greg also appeared in various episodes of Two and a Half Men. In the eighth episode of the fifth season of Two and a Half Men, "Is There a Mrs. Waffles?", Charlie watches an episode of Dharma & Greg after watching the first commercial for his CD. In the first episode of the ninth season, after Charlie Sheen got fired from the show, Dharma & Greg were one of the couples looking over Charlie's house, which was for sale. Cryer also appeared in the series premiere episode of Mom.
In the season 6 Big Bang Theory episode "The Holographic Excitation", Sheldon and Amy are fighting over which couple to go as to a Halloween party. Among her suggestions seen on a whiteboard are Blossom & Joey (Blossom and Amy both being played by Mayim Bialik) and Dharma & Greg.
Awards and recognition
Lorre was first married to his business partner, Paula Smith, in 1979. The business partnership and marriage were dissolved after 13 years and the birth of their two children. Lorre was married to actress and 1980s Playboy Playmate, Karen Witter for 10 years but divorced in July 2010.
He also has publicly admitted his decades of struggle with the autoimmune disease ulcerative colitis, and other mild health struggles with depression, worry, anger/rage. Stated Lorre in an interview: "Put me in paradise and I will focus on the one thing that will make me angry." As he told Entertainment Weekly: "I am wired on some deep level to seek out something to be worried and obsess about."
- O'Connor, Clare (18 May 2011). "How Charlie Sheen Made More Money This Year Than Ever Before". forbes.com. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Rice, Lynette (December 8, 2006). "It Hurts to Laugh". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- Pilkington, Ed (25 February 2011). "Two and a Half Men axed after rant leaves Sheen looking a proper Charlie". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Hibberd, James (25 February 2011). "Charlie Sheen decoded: Where 'Chaim Levine' comes from". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Chuck Lorre Vanity Card Webpage". Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "E! All You Need To Know About Charlie Sheen's Nemesis". Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Bissell, Tom. "A Simple Medium". The New Yorker (December 6, 2010): 34–41. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Vanity Card #165". chucklorre.com. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "Vanity Card #243". chucklorre.com. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- Chuck Lorre. "MUSIC - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Retrieved 2010-05-19.
- "IMDB Dharma & Greg". Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Keveney, Bill (2013-03-07). "The 'Big Bang' boom propels hit sitcom". USA Today. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
- Hinckley, David (February 28, 2011). "Charlie Sheen, Stan Rosenfield cut ties: Long-time publicist quits amid actor's public meltdown". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
- Carr, David (February 28, 2011). "Insulting Chuck Lorre, Not Abuse, Gets Sheen Sidelined". The New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- "Charlie Sheen fired from Two and a Half Men TV show". BBC Online. March 7, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
- "Sacked star Charlie Sheen sues sitcom makers". BBC Online. March 11, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
- Strachan, Alex (11 March 2009). "The hilarity of the nerds: Big Bang Theory ignites hope for TV sitcoms". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 26 March 2009.[dead link]
- "Mike and Molly". Metacritic. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- "Chuck Lorre's CBS pilot 'Mom' to get series order". Retrieved October 25, 2013.
- Malcolm, Shawna (10 March 2009). "Vanity cards let Lorre sound off". Variety. Retrieved 24 March 2009.
- EXCLUSIVE: Charlie Sheen: Lawyers Examining Chuck Lorre's Vanity Cards As Legal Fight Looms, Tells 'Men' Creator 'Oops!' Radar Online, February 28, 2011
- "What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Bitter: Chuck Lorre: 9781451679755: Amazon.com: Books". Amazon.com. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
- "CLP - Vanity Card #01". Chucklorre.com. 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
- Wyatt, Edward (October 4, 2009). "The Big Surprise of Big Bang: The Bigger Audience". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
- "The Big Bang Theory: Season 2, Episode 4: The Griffin Equivalency (13 Oct. 2008)". IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
- "Cybill (1995-1998)". IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
- "Jon Cryer". IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
- "Mike & Molly: Katy Mixon". CBS: Shows. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Stringer, D.; Comedy Central News (March 11, 2011). "Mike & Molly star defends Sheen and Lorre". Comedy Central UK: News. Comedy Central UK. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- "2004 BMI Film/TV Awards". bmi.com. 12 May 2004. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "2005 BMI Film/TV Awards". bmi.com. 18 May 2005. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "2008 BMI Film/TV Awards". bmi.com. 21 May 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "2009 BMI Film & Television Music Awards Winners". bmi.com. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Chuck Lorre receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". Variety. 14 March 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- ""Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre to speak at SUNY undergrad commencement". The State University of New York at Potsdam. 12 Feb 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "Television Academy to Induct New Hall of Fame Honorees March 1". emmys.com. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "TV Academy Adds Nine To Hall Of Fame". Deadline.com. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "How to Create a Hit Sitcom". chucklorre.com. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
- Rice, Lynette (January 8, 2007). "It Hurts to Laugh". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- "All You Need to Know About Charlie Sheen Nemesis Chuck Lorre". E!. March 11, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- "Entertainment Weekly". All you Need To Know About C. Sheen's Nemesis. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chuck Lorre.|
- Chuck Lorre Productions
- Chuck Lorre at the Internet Movie Database
- The New Yorker profile of Chuck Lorre (December 2010)
- Chuck Lorre interview video at the Archive of American Television