Chuck Lorre (born Charles Michael Levine; October 18, 1952) is an American television writer, director, producer and composer. Lorre has created many popular and successful sitcoms including Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. He also created the currently-airing sitcom Mom and served as an executive producer of Roseanne and Mike & Molly.
Lorre was born Charles Michael Levine in Bethpage, Long Island, New York to a Jewish family.
According to Lorre's website on "Vanity Card #119", Chuck changed his name from Levine to Lorre at age twenty-six.
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. During his two years at college he "majored in rock 'n' roll and pot and minored in LSD." He also admits to drinking in his past, telling EW, "I led a dissolute youth until 47." He now is in recovery.
After leaving school, Lorre toured the United States as a guitarist and songwriter. He wrote Deborah Harry's radio hit single "French Kissin' in the USA" for her 1986 Rockbird album. Lorre also composed the soundtrack to the 1987 television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Dennis Challen Brown. Lorre shifted into writing, being a writer on the show Roseanne.
Lorre's first show as creator was the ABC sitcom Grace Under Fire, starring comedienne Brett Butler. It premiered on ABC in 1993, and was nominated at the 52nd Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Lorre's second 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.
Lorre's third show was Dharma & Greg, which was premiered one year before the end of Cybill in 1997. The show starred Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson as the title characters, whose characters 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. Like the "yin/yang" symbol in every episode, each represents one of the 'polar opposites' that would seem to repel, but somehow strongly attract to create the most harmonious "whole". This comedy shows through metaphor in light daily living struggles, the deeper challenges of life/existence for which every human has struggled for generations. The show earned eight Golden Globe nominations, six Emmy Award nominations, and six Satellite Awards nominations. Elfman earned a Golden Globe in 1999 for Best Actress.
Lorre's fourth show was Two and a Half Men with co-creater 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. The show premiered on CBS in 2003 and has become the highest-rated sitcom in America. However, CBS briefly canceled the show up until its eighth season following several incidents of production shutdowns allegedly due to Sheen's serious problems related to drug and alcohol abuse, which culminated in his verbal attacks directed at Lorre during a radio interview. Sheen was officially fired from the show, and later filed a $100 million lawsuit against Lorre and Warner Bros. Television for wrongful termination. Afterwards, CBS and Warner Bros. hired Ashton Kutcher as Sheen's replacement, and the show was renewed for its eleventh season.
Lorre's fifth show was The Big Bang Theory with co-creator Bill Prady. The show follows two physicists with genius IQs and very low social skills who befriend their neighbor, an attractive young woman with an average IQ, no college education, and very high social skills. 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 uneducated, but socially brilliant, neighbor. The two main protagonists, Sheldon and Leonard, are named after the actor and television producer Sheldon Leonard. The show premiered on CBS in 2007 and is the highest rated comedy series in America.