Charlie Sheen's Boss: 5 Things You Don't Know About Chuck Lorre

Art Streiber

What the Two and a Half Men co-creator had to say about the actor before their spat; how he almost didn't do TV and what show he says he wishes was his.

Two and a Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre was thrust into the media spotlight this week thanks to Charlie Sheen's bizarre rants.

THR has the scoop on TV’s most successful, and busiest, sitcom producer:
1. He started out as a song writer.
After dropping out of SUNY Potsdam college in 1972 to pursue music, the New York native, now 58, was a “second-string guitar player in third-string bands playing fourth-rate clubs.” Back then, he didn’t even own a TV, though he did manage to pen Deborah Harry’s 1986 hit “French Kissing in the USA.”  That same year, he changed gears to pursue a writing career in Hollywood. His first major writing gig: 1990's Roseanne
2. He built Two and a Half Men Around Charlie Sheen.
After creating ABC’s Dharma & Greg, he and Cybill writer Lee Aronsohn and Lorre fell into a conversation in 2003 about how “a child might be a positive influence on the life of a degenerate." Lorre told THR last year in a cover story: "For some reason, the words ‘Charlie Sheen’ came to mind." The two men met. “He had a great sense of humor about it and we built a show around him,” he recalled. Their relationship has since soured.
3. He says money is no longer important.
His three shows on CBS - Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly - represent an extraordinary source of revenue for CBS and Warner Bros. Men and Big Bang rank near the top of the chart for advertising rates on broadcast — pulling $207,000 and $195,000, respectively, per 30-second spot. Plus, there are lucrative syndication dollars that Lorre enjoys along with the studio — Big Bang has sold for about $1.5 million per episode, and Men just resold for another seven years into syndication after initially going for a record $2 million per episode. Asked whether money is still important, he told THR last year: “The answer to that is ‘no.’ It’s about doing good work, it’s doing something I can be proud of.”
4. He has no plans to produce a fourth show. 
During the course of a broadcast TV season, a showrunner will manage 22 episodes. Last year, THR reported that Lorre has made 30 episodes in less than four months, darting from office to office within his building, and from stage to stage on the lot. The level of focus this requires, while maintaining Lorre’s standards, is enormous. There are times, he told THR, “when you want to rip your head off.”  Three shows, he said at the time, is already “unreasonable.” 
5. The one show he wishes was his.
Cheers," he told THR last year. "I just love the simplicity of it. They never left that bar. I mean, literally. Hundreds of episodes of television were right there.”