Did you know that the first TV show that Chuck Lorre ever got on the air only lasted five weeks? It was a sitcom about a Staten Island family called, “Frannie’s Turn.” The show premiered in what Lorre calls “the coveted Saturday 8 o’clock timeslot” on CBS (http://variety.com/).
Lorre had developed the show due to the orders of his bosses on “Roseanne,” where he was a staff writer. He hadn’t liked the idea for the show, but he did like the faith his bosses had in him to develop and run it. When “Frannie’s Turn” was canceled, Lorre, believing he’d put that faith to waste and prepared for the worst (http://variety.com/).
“To my amazement Tom Werner said to me, ‘Well that was a noble failure. Let’s try something else,’” Lorre says. “And I was shocked, because I thought my career was over.”
His career was far from over. After that Lorre went on to become one of the most successful producers in television. He developed “Grace under Fire” with Carsey and Werner, and has since gone on to produce “Cybill,” “Dharma & Greg,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Mike & Molly,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Mom,” and the upcoming Netflix comedy “Disjointed.” Through those shows he has helped advance the careers of an army of television writers and producers, providing them with opportunities much as Carsey and Werner did him (http://variety.com/).
When Lorre met Gemma Baker in 2010, for instance, she had been working for seven years as an office manager. Baker had come to Los Angeles to become an actress. She wrote essays and comedy sketches but never made enough headway with acting or writing to shake off her day job. Gemma married, had a child, and began to think about giving up on entertainment (http://variety.com/).
“I was starting to Google ‘places in America you can live with a family,’” Baker says. “I was starting to ask those hard, upsetting questions. Then I went to a party and, luckily I had no idea who I was talking to, but I met Chuck without knowing it. (http://variety.com/).”
Lorre offered to help Baker with her writing. One year later, she left her office-manager job joined the staff of “Two and a Half Men” and then went on to develop “Mom” with Lorre and Eddie Gorodetsky (http://variety.com/).
According to Variety, Baker didn’t even ask Lorre to help her:
“The thing that was amazing about Chuck was that I didn’t approach him. I didn’t send him my writing,” Baker says. “He just happened to notice something in talking to me that made him want to read my writing. And I think for someone who is so successful and busy to not only notice that, but then follow through on it, is really incredible.”
Lorre rejects the idea that it’s part of his job to find and nurture writers. “You just meet singular individuals like Gemma,” he says. “I can list the people over the years who I’ve been lucky enough to work with, who I’ve found, or who I was lucky enough to stumble into a professional relationship with. (http://variety.com/).”
We will continue this piece in part 2.