Chuck Lorre

Last updated
Chuck Lorre
Lorre in September 2011
Charles Michael Levine

(1952-10-18) October 18, 1952 (age 67)
OccupationDirector, Writer, producer, composer
Years active1984–present
Notable work
Grace Under Fire
Dharma & Greg
Two and a Half Men
The Big Bang Theory
Mike & Molly
Young Sheldon
The Kominsky Method
Bob Hearts Abishola
    Paula Smith
    (m. 1979;div. 1992)
      (m. 2001;div. 2010)
        Arielle Mandelson
        (m. after 2018)

Chuck Lorre ( /ˈlɔːri/ ; [1] born Charles Michael Levine, October 18, 1952) [2] [3] is an American television director, writer, producer, composer and actor. Called the "King of Sitcoms" during the 2010s, [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] he has created and produced sitcoms including Grace Under Fire , Cybill , Dharma & Greg , Two and a Half Men , The Big Bang Theory , Mike & Molly , Mom , Young Sheldon , The Kominsky Method , Disjointed , and Bob Hearts Abishola . He also served as an executive producer of Roseanne . He won Golden Globe Awards for Roseanne (1993) and Cybill (1996), [9] and won the 2019 Golden Globe Award for The Kominsky Method.


Early life

Charles Michael Levine was born in Plainview, New York, to a Jewish family. [10] [11] His father, Robert, [12] opened a luncheonette that did poorly, which caused financial problems. 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. [3] During his two years at college he "majored in rock 'n' roll and pot and minored in LSD". In 2011, he admitted to drinking heavily in his past, telling EW that he "led a dissolute youth until 47". He was in recovery at the time. [13] Substance related issues are a recurring theme in his work, too.

He changed his surname from Levine to Lorre at age 26. [1]


After leaving school, Lorre toured across the United States as a guitarist and songwriter. [14] He wrote the song "French Kissin' in the USA," which Deborah Harry later recorded for her 1986 Rockbird album. [14] It became a UK Top 10 hit. In the early 1980s he turned to writing scripts for animated shows, his first project being the DIC version of Heathcliff . [15] Later, Lorre co-wrote the soundtrack to the 1987 television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Dennis Challen Brown. [16] [17] [18] In the late 1980s, Lorre shifted into writing for sitcoms, being a writer on the show Roseanne . Though he was fired over irreconcilable creative differences, Lorre's time on Roseanne impressed producers, and led to him creating his first show, Frannie's Turn , but it was cancelled after 5 weeks. [14] [19]

Afterwards, Lorre created his second show, Grace Under Fire , starring comedian Brett Butler. [14] It premiered on ABC in 1993, and was nominated at the 52nd Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series  Musical or Comedy. Lorre's third 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.

Dharma & Greg was the fourth show Lorre created, in partnership with Dottie Zicklin (credited as Dottie Dartland), which premiered one year before the end of Cybill in 1997. [3] (Lorre had left Cybill in season two.) The show starred Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson as the title characters, whose personalities 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. [20] The show earned eight Golden Globe nominations, six Emmy Award nominations, and six Satellite Awards nominations. [21] The show earned Elfman a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 1999. [20]

Following that, Lorre created his fifth show, Two and a Half Men with co-creator 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. Two and a Half Men premiered on CBS in 2003 and became the highest-rated sitcom in America. [3] [14] However, CBS put the show on hiatus in 2011 following several incidents of production shutdowns allegedly due to Sheen's serious problems related to drug and alcohol abuse, which culminated in his insulting verbal attacks directed at Lorre during a radio interview. [22] [23] Sheen was officially fired from the show, and later filed a $100 million lawsuit against Lorre and Warner Bros. Television for wrongful termination. [24] [25] Lorre killed off Sheen's character and hired Ashton Kutcher as his replacement.

Lorre's next show was The Big Bang Theory with co-creator Bill Prady. The show follows two genius physicists with very low social skills who befriend their neighbor, an attractive, outgoing young woman with average intelligence and no college education. 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 less educated, but socially brilliant, neighbor. The two main protagonists, Sheldon and Leonard, are named after the actor and television producer Sheldon Leonard. [26] The show premiered on CBS in 2007 and was the highest rated comedy series in the United States. [14]

Lorre was executive producer of Mike & Molly , created by Mark Roberts, which premiered on CBS in September 2010. [27] His seventh show, created with Gemma Baker and Eddie Gorodetsky, Mom, premiered on CBS on September 23, 2013. [28] On March 13, 2014, CBS announced the second season renewal of Mom. The show has since run for six seasons, with CBS renewing it for two more in 2019. [29]

Vanity cards

Lorre in 2007 Chuck Lorre.jpg
Lorre in 2007

The unique vanity cards for Chuck Lorre Productions have become a "trademark" for Lorre. [30] [31] Typically, on the end of every episode of his productions beginning with Dharma & Greg (an Apple Macintosh computer was used for Lorre's production card on Grace Under Fire and Cybill), Lorre includes a different 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, his support of Barack Obama, 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; [32] Lorre posts both the censored and uncensored versions of the cards.

During Charlie Sheen's controversial departure from Two and a Half Men in 2011, Lorre referenced Sheen in several cards. [31] Lorre used the vanity card for the series finale, "Of Course He's Dead", to address the circumstances of Sheen's absence from the episode.

Lorre published a compilation of his vanity cards in a coffee table book titled What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Bitter, released on October 16, 2012. [33] The book takes its title from Vanity Card #1, which first aired following the first episode of Dharma & Greg. [34]

During The Big Bang Theory episode titled "The Hook-Up Reverberation" Vanity card #463 was displayed. Vanity card #463 discussed Lorre'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. However, he resumed his cards; Vanity card #493 on March 5, 2015, featured a tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy, who had guest starred on the show as the voice of Sheldon's conscience three years before. [35] In 2017 with the premiere of Disjointed , for the first time since Dharma & Greg premiered in 1997, a new show of Lorre's did not use his traditional Vanity Card. Instead a standard production logo was used. The vanity cards have since reappeared on Lorre's Netflix original series, The Kominsky Method.

Selected credits

Lorre in September 2008 Chuck Lorre (1).jpg
Lorre in September 2008
TitleYearCredited asNetwork


Pole Position 1984NoNoYesNo CBS
M.A.S.K. 1985NoNoYesNoSyndicated
Muppet Babies 1985NoNoYesNoCBS
MoonDreamers 1986NoNoYesNoSyndicated
Defenders of the Earth 1986-1987NoNoYesNoSyndicated
Charles in Charge 1987NoNoYesNoCBS
My Two Dads 1987-1990NoNoYesNo NBC
The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil 1988NoNoYesNo ABC
Roseanne 1990–1992NoNoYesYesABC
Toxic Crusaders 1991NoNoYesNoSyndicated
Frannie's Turn 1992YesNoYesYesCBS
Grace Under Fire 1993–1998YesNoYesYesABC
Cybill 1995–1998YesNoYesYesCBS
Dharma & Greg 1997–2002YesYesYesYesABC
Two and a Half Men 2003–2015YesYesYesYesCBS
The Big Bang Theory 2007–2019YesNoYesYesCBS
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 2008NoNoYesNoCBS
Mike & Molly 2010–2016NoNoYesYesCBS
Mom 2013–presentYesNoYesYesCBS
Disjointed 2017–2018YesNoYesYes Netflix
Young Sheldon 2017–presentYesNoYesYesCBS
The Kominsky Method 2018–presentYesYesYesYesNetflix
Bob Hearts Abishola [36] 2019–presentYesNoYesYesCBS
B Positive [37] TBANoNoYesYesCBS
The United States of Al [38] TBAYesNoYesYesCBS

Awards and recognition

Lorre won BMI Television Music Awards in 2004, [39] 2005, [40] 2008 [41] and 2009 [42] for Two and a Half Men.

On March 12, 2009, Lorre received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard. [43]

Three months later, Lorre received an honorary degree from the State University of New York at Potsdam and gave a keynote address at the graduation. [44]

Lorre was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in March 2012. [45] [46]

Lorre won Golden Globe Awards for Roseanne (1993) and Cybill (1996). [47]

In 2019, Lorre received the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy for his show The Kominsky Method . [48]

Also in 2019, Lorre was awarded the Critics' Choice Award for Creative Achievement. [49]

Personal life

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. [50]

Lorre was married to actress and former Playboy Playmate Karen Witter for 10 years before their divorce in July 2010. [12] [51]

From 2010 to 2011, Lorre was in a relationship with Emmanuelle Vaugier, a Canadian actress and model, who appeared in twelve episodes of Two and a Half Men as a ballet teacher and the main character's love interest.

In September 2018, Lorre married his current wife, Arielle Mandelson.

He has publicly discussed his decades of struggle with the autoimmune disease ulcerative colitis, as well as depression, worry, and anger/rage. Lorre stated in an interview: "Put me in paradise and I will focus on the one thing that will make me angry." In an interview with Entertainment Weekly , he said, "I am wired on some deep level to seek out something to be worried and obsess about." [52]

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