Chuck Lorre Was Heavily Discouraged From Working With A Big Bang Theory Star, Who Was Described As “Death Of Comedy” By CBS


Highlights

  • Chuck Lorre faced pushback from CBS over casting decisions, including Christine Baranski and Kunal Nayyar.
  • Despite network opposition, Lorre stuck to his vision by casting Baranski, which Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki approved of.
  • Lorre learned the hard way not to pick fights with stars in Hollywood, but he stood his ground to keep Nayyar on The Big Bang Theory.


Chuck Lorre has enjoyed major success as a show creator in Hollywood. However, that success also came with some tough decisions. Two and a Half Men was a huge hit. However, Lorre had to fight CBS over the hiring of Jon Cryer. The same held true during his time on The Big Bang Theory, and even early on in his career with the show, Cybill.

On Cybill, Chuck Lorre worked with a popular Big Bang Theory guest star. Lorre was eager to work with the actress, but CBS wasn’t on the same page.

In the following, we’re going to take a closer look at what went down between the two sides, and why Lorre was eventually fired from the show. In addition, we’ll reveal other names he struggled to cast during his time in Hollywood.

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Chuck Lorre Was Discouraged From Working With Christine Baranski Early On In His Career

Chuck Lorre enjoyed lots of success with CBS over the years, aiding the network with some smash comedy hits. However, it wasn’t always that way, especially early on. Chuck Lorre worked behind the scenes on the show Cybill, which lasted four seasons. Lorre’s time on the show was even shorter due to creative differences with the network.


The Big Bang Theory creator revealed the past drama with CBS. Lorre discussed his release from Cybill, “I got about 18 episodes before I was fired.” He said, “Getting fired by Cybill [Shepherd] was another low. If I recall correctly, there was a disagreement about whether the second act worked for an episode. I dug my heels in and wouldn’t change it — and I was told not to come back. Don’t pick a fight with the star. Lesson learned.”

In addition, Lorre was strongly discouraged from working with one of the stars on the show, none other than Christine Baranski. “She was brilliant. CBS didn’t want her. I believe the head of comedy development . . . used the words ‘death of comedy’ when discussing her.”


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Not only did Lorre use Baranski despite the network’s request, he would reunite with the actress several other times throughout his career, and that included The Big Bang Theory.

Both Jim Parsons And Johnny Galecki Spoke Highly Of Christine Baranski

Despite CBS’ feelings, Christine Baranski was a respected face throughout her career, and that especially held true on The Big Bang Theory.Johnny Galecki was full of praise for the actress, revealing she was the opposite of what he expected.

Christine Baranski and Johnny Galecki
via CBS

“That was really very cool and flattering, because you hear something like that, that Christine Baranski is going to come on the show, and I just kept saying, “Well, she doesn’t want to come do our show.” You know, I’m so modest about our new little show, and I’m, like, “She’s probably just coming to do Chuck Lorre a favor, but who cares, because it’s Christine Baranski and that’s so exciting.”


Galecki continues, “But then she gets there, and she knows every episode and she’s spending her lunch hours going over her lines. You know, not phoning anything in whatsoever.”

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Jim Parsons agreed and referred to Laurie Metcalf and Christine Baranski as his favorite guest stars on the show. “I see them as actor’s actors. All the years that I watched them (before ‘Big Bang’), I would identify with them as performers, as a fellow craftsman in the field. To meet them and realize that was true was overjoying. Working with them was as rewarding and interesting as I always thought it would be.”

Chuck Lorre Had To Fight For Another Big Bang Theory Star CBS Didn’t Want

Credit to Chuck Lorre for once again sticking to his vision. Once again, the network made a request to pull Kunal Nayyar off the show early on. Lorre felt like this was very unfair given Nayyar’s lack of line as Raj during the pilot. Lorre had to fight CBS over potentially firing his main cast member.


Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar
via Instar

“When I landed in New York for the upfronts, I was informed that Kunal wasn’t there. I was like, “What do you mean he isn’t here? Why isn’t he here?” Apparently while I was flying across the country, a CBS executive determined—unilaterally—that Kunal wasn’t right for the role and we would recast that part. Well, I did not respond well. I was furious.”

Lorre continues, “I called the execs at CBS and said, “You can’t fire him. I cast him, I believe in him, I’ll take responsibility for this decision. He’s my guy.” If I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail on my own choices. I’m not going to fail on someone else’s choices. I wasn’t about to recast that part because someone else made a decision. It seemed so unfair to cut the actor from the series based on what—the two lines where he whispered to Wolowitz?”


Thankfully, Lorre was able to get his way, and Nayyar became a crucial part of the show.



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