'Awards Chatter' Podcast — Chuck Lorre ('The Big Bang Theory' & 'Mom')

Chuck Lorre - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Chuck Lorre - H 2015

"I never dreamed that I'd be in this position, that I'd have TV shows that actually matter to people," Chuck Lorre says as we sit down in his office at Chuck Lorre Productions on the Warner Bros. lot to record an episode of 'Awards Chatter.' Few people in the medium's history have created and/or produced as many hit shows as this 63-year-old, whose current trio — all of which air on CBS, for which he previously made Two and a Half Men — is comprised of TV's highest rated comedy series: The Big Bang Theory, about socially challenged geniuses; one of broadcast's most critically acclaimed comedy series, Mom, about a mother and daughter recovering together from addiction; and the comedy series that put Melissa McCarthy on the path to stardom, Mike and Molly, about overeaters who fall in love.

(Click above to listen to this episode now or click here to access all of our episodes via iTunes. Past guests include Steven SpielbergAmy Schumer, Louis C.K., Lady GagaWill SmithKristen Stewart, Harvey WeinsteinBrie LarsonJ.J. AbramsKate Winslet, Samuel L. JacksonJane Fonda and Michael Moore.)

Lorre made his name as a writer on Roseanne before creating Frannie’s Turn, Grace Under Fire, Cybill and Dharma and Greg and then signing a deal with Warner Bros. TV, in 2000, followed by his run of hits for the Tiffany Network. (He had four running simultaneously at one point.) "One of the things I love about how this all played out is that these shows are all extremely different from one another," he says. "There's a different tone, there's a different rhythm, they're not spin-offs, they're very distinctive things. The exhausting thing is shifting gears, but once you shift gears you're in a whole other environment where you're putting yourself in a place where you're trying to see the world through the eyes of these characters. And that's invigorating."

Over the course of our conversation, we discuss his unusual journey to TV (he was previously a songwriter whose credits include the theme for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles); why he regrets leaving Dharma and Greg — on which he developed his affinity for vanity cards — for Warner Bros. ("one of the bigger mistakes of my career"); the experience of working with Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men ("Charlie does what Charlie does better than anybody in the world... He's kind of a Dean Martin character who, no matter how deplorable his behavior, you still like him") and having to replace him in 2011 ("It was a terrible time. It was heartbreaking. I actually thought the show was over"); and why he thinks the multi-camera format, which he has almost single-handedly kept alive, has become endangered.

Lorre also discusses the impending departure of Mike and Molly, the last episode of which airs May 16 ("This was sad. This felt premature. I was very disappointed that CBS was never terribly enthusiastic about it... it was hurtful"); the future of Big Bang, which recently crossed the 200 episode mark and wrapped its ninth season ("Year 10 is already contracted for with CBS, so we know we're doing one more year. Beyond that, I don't know. That's a Leslie Moonves question"); and the critical acclaim that's been accorded to Mom, the likes of which a Lorre show has never before received ("I've joked that if the ratings on Mom go down anymore we'll win a Nobel Prize"). He also dishes a little about his next project, which he's currently shopping around: it's set in a pot dispensary in Colorado — although, he cracks, "If this thing passes in November we might move it to California" — and he says he's open to doing it as a single-camera show for a streaming service like Netflix ("I would love to try and work in another way").