Scott D. Pierce: Have some sympathy for poor (rich) Chuck Lorre
You have to feel sorry for Chuck Lorre.
Yes, he's one of the most successful sitcom producers in TV history, with a long string of successes and three hit shows on the air right now "The Big Bang Theory," "Mike & Molly" and "Two and a Half Men."
And, no, he's not the most personable guy. Entertainment Weekly once called him "the angriest man in television," and that was long before Charlie Sheen lost his mind.
Lorre hates TV critics, and I've had several awkward chats with him over the years. But I can't help but feel for him.
You'd be angry, too, if your rÃ©sumÃ© included:
• A stint as the supervising producer of "Roseanne," dealing with the notoriously difficult star of that show.
• Creating and producing "Grace Under Fire," headlined by Brett Butler. She was eventually fired because of her substance-abuse problems.
• Then it was "Cybill," which starred the notoriously difficult Cybill Shepherd.
Alan Ball ("True Blood") worked on both shows and referred to that time as "the gulag."
Is it any wonder that when Lorre co-wrote a 2008 episode of "CSI," he said that "burning inside of me was the desire to do an autopsy on a sitcom diva"?
Even "Dharma & Greg" star Jenna Elfman had a bit of a reputation. I was there once when she launched into a defense of Scientology to a group of critics when no one had asked anything about her religion.
We all know what happened with Sheen on "Two and a Half Men." And, in retrospect, we might have seen that coming.
But the Angus T. Jones thing came out of the blue. I've interviewed him many times since the show premiered in 2003, and he always came across as a nice, normal kid who was unfazed by his fame. Until last week, when on Tuesday he launched a video attacking his own show, calling it "filth" and encouraging people to stop watching it.
Jones apologized, sort of, on Wednesday. And he's still cashing his checks.
(The presence of his "spiritual leader" in the video seems to suggest Jones may have been used.)
Before anybody suggests that Lorre somehow causes this sort of thing, remember that two of his three current sitcoms have had no such problems.
You might be more successful in building an argument if you claimed that Hollywood attracts actors who have ego problems. Or that actors are likely to develop ego problems when they become rich and famous.
It hard to run a show when the stars wield so much power. The lunatics-are-running-the-asylum clichÃ© comes to mind.
Fortunately for Lorre, he has mountains of money to fall back on. But I still feel sorry for him.
I'd be the angriest TV critic in America if I had to deal with his kind of problems.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.
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