The Secret Formula to Chuck Lorre's Comedy Empire

by Raphael Chestang 5:41 PM PST, January 16, 2015
Playing The Secret Formula to Chuck Lorre's Comedy Empire

Chuck Lorre has cornered the market as far as sitcoms are concerned. He currently has four major shows on the air, including The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly. ET met up with the prolific TV producer just before an event celebrating him at Warner Bros. Studios.

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"Chuck changed my life very succinctly by being in the room when I auditioned," Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons told ET.

"Right now I'm strictly his employee and trying to make him happy," Mom star Allison Janney said.

"He has a tremendous eye for what works and he's fearless to try it," Mike & Molly's Billy Gardell gushed.

Today, Chuck is a giant in the TV industry, but his success didn't come overnight. The 62-year-old Long Island, N.Y. native got his start as a musician and songwriter. His big claim to fame was composing the theme song for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.

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He later transitioned to writing for television when he landed a freelance gig writing for the syndicated comedy Charles in Charge, which led to a staff writing job on My Two Dads. Roseanne was where Chuck finally caught his first big break when, in 1991, he became a supervising producer for the groundbreaking TV show and later a co-executive producer. Prior to his killer CBS lineup, Chuck already had an impressive list of hits, which included Grace Under Fire, Cybill and Dharma & Greg.

"Of course not," Chuck said when asked if he ever expected to be this successful. "The hope was to pay off the credit cards, get health insurance -- I had much lower expectations."

Chuck quickly surpassed his goals. His net worth was last estimated to be around $700 million and he's even boosted the careers for other people.

"I was terrified to do this show and Chuck talked me into it," Billy admitted. "I didn't think I could do it, and he said, 'No, you're the guy for this' and he said, 'I'm going to surround you with a great cast,' and he put next to me [Melissa McCarthy] the best comedic actress in 20 years, so he wasn't kidding."

One regret Chuck did have was that the Charlie Sheen/Two and a Half Men fallout didn't end differently. Fans will remember the 2011 scandal that led to the actor's exit from Two and a Half Men, and was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.

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"I don't want to get into it, because it's too inflammatory but how could I not wish that things had changed and turned out differently with Charlie," Chuck said. "It broke my heart. Horrible ending to what was an incredible run with that show."

Now that Two and a Half Men is nearing the end of its run (the series finale airs Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS), will Charlie Sheen be on it? Chuck remains tight-lipped on any spoilers, so fans will have to tune in to find out.