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Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011

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    Chuck Lorre, Lee Aronsohn, Bill Prady & Mark Roberts
    Team Lorre
    Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn, Two and a Half Men; Bill Prady, The Big Bang Theory; Mark Roberts, Mike & Molly (CBS)

    Between Charlie Sheen's firing, Ashton Kutcher's hiring and Melissa McCarthy's Emmy win, Team Lorre hasn't been short on headlines. What's more, all three of its CBS comedies boast sky-high ratings, including a 29 million-viewer opening for revamped stalwart Two and a Half Men. But the men behind these shows have more to offer than punch lines and Nielsen points. Roberts, 50, who began his career in front of the camera (including three seasons on the 1990s comedy The Naked Truth), is still a working playwright. Prady, 51, who recalls setting his alarm to watch Johnny Carson as a child in Detroit before spending the bulk of his early career working on various Muppets projects, admits he would like to work on dramatic fare with shades of gray, like The Shield. Aronsohn, 58, who got his start writing for The Love Boat,Charles in Charge and Who's the Boss? before co-creating Men with Lorre, says he has "always had a yen to make nature documentaries. No jokes, no divas." Tying those three men together is Lorre, 58, who dropped out of college to be a songwriter before segueing to TV with writing gigs on Roseanne and his creations Grace Under Fire and Dharma & Greg. How has his showrunner style changed? "I've evolved from sporadic full-blown panic attacks to a constant hum of low-level anxiety," says Lorre.

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