Chuck Lorre is the guiding force behind four of Warner Bros. Television’s top sitcoms on CBS – Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and Mom. As Two and a Half Men comes closer to its one-hour series finale on February 19, WBTV invited critics and journalists to see a historic panel with stars from all of the current shows in Lorre’s stable.
Participating in the panel – dubbed “An Evening With Chuck Lorre Productions” – were Two and a Half Men’s Lee Aronsohn, Don Reo, Jim Patterson, Holland Taylor, Conchata Ferrell, Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer; The Big Bang Theory’s Steven Molaro, Bill Prady, Melissa Rauch, Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Jim Parsons, Mayim Bialik, Kunal Nayyar; Mom’s Gemma Baker, Eddie Gorodetsky, Anna Faris and Allison Janney; Mike & Molly’s Al Higgins, Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy; and of course, the man who once wrote the theme song for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chuck Lorre.
The top question for Mr. Lorre that night involved the Two and a Half Men finale — more specifically, whether or not original series star Charlie Sheen would be returning for it.
“I think we’re going to have a finale that you’ll be very, very pleased with. And that’s all I’m going to say about it,” Lorre said when first asked about a return of Sheen to the show. Of course, later he did expand on his answer a little bit.
“It would be inappropriate here to not acknowledge the extraordinary success we had with Charlie and how grateful I am, and we all are, to his contribution,” Lorre added. “There’s nothing but good feelings for the eight and a half years we worked together. But how to wrap the show up, it’s tricky. It’s a tricky – it’s a sticky wicket. Because, in a way, the show morphed into something else entirely for the last four years, and it’s something we love, and we want to honor both. So, how to honor both has been the challenge of this finale. The other challenge is how to get people watching it without telling them what it is,” he explained.
So what makes a Chuck Lorre show work? Anna Faris, star of Mom, credits the “humanity and dimension” behind his characters. “I feel like I’m not written as a you know, as a 38 year old blonde woman; I’m written more as a very dimensional person with a lot of problems. I’ve never gotten to experience that. I think that probably most of the actors here could agree with that, that Chuck gives us that,” she said.
“These shows work because they’re all built on family,” Ashton Kutcher added. “They’re all built on these obscure, broken, beat up, messed up families that are just like yours. And that’s what makes them work. And I think that Chuck works with people that understand that that works, and that’s extraordinarily relatable. Even if it’s two straight guys acting like gay guys so they can adopt a kid; that’s a family. If it’s a bunch of kids talking about physics, and whatever, that’s a family. If it’s whatever it is, it’s all built around really broken, messed up families. And if you have one, you know what one’s like, and you can really relate to it, and it’s fun to laugh at. Because, ultimately, you sit at home and you laugh at yourself. And that’s kind of the magic that I think Chuck and his in the collective of incredible writers that he works with, I think they understand that, and appreciate that, and they project that through the work,” he said, before his Two and a Half Men co-star Jon Cryer pointed out that he actually does go home to watch the show and laugh at himself.
“Chuck was a musician before he was a writer, and I think one of the common things with all these shows is a rhythm,” Jim Parsons praised. “And I think that has a lot to do with ‘where’s the laugh here, and stuff?’ It’s like, we need the beat; what the hell. And I think it’s one of the reasons that all the shows repeat so well in syndication is because of the rhythm. I mean, you know what’s going to happen, you saw it three other times, but it’s like a good pop song. It’s really it’s enjoyable to dance to again.”
Following the Q&A and a screening of the next episode of Mom, press was invited to visit the sets of the four Lorre sitcoms, all within walking distance of one another, and we were also witness to a dedication – Stage 26, which has housed the Two and a Half Men sets for over a decade, is now and will forever be “The Two and a Half Men Stage.” Few producers have achieved what Chuck Lorre has achieved over the past two decades — and more is sure to come from him and his team in the future.
The Big Bang Theory, Mom and Two and a Half Men air Thursdays on CBS, while Mike & Molly is a staple of the CBS Monday schedule. Our thanks to Warner Bros. Television for having us by to witness TV history!