Chuck Lorre gets a dial tone

Chuck Lorre is featured in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

He is responsible for three current shows on TV: Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike and Molly.

In a world where making one TV show is heroically difficult, Lorre is making three.

THR gives us a glimpse of the personal costs of this undertaking, but for some reason it leaves unexamined the Vanity cards which which Lorre ends his shows.  To the right is his first Vanity Card, created when the world was still using videotape.

These Vanity cards are personal messages from Lorre, placed on a frame or two of film.  They are visible if and only if we freeze the frame and take a look.

I happen to love Lorre’s television, but I can’t help feeling that these vanity cards are at least as interesting as his other contributions to contemporary culture.

Have we ever seen someone smart enough to see the opportunity, daring enough to use it, and candid enough to use it, um, really candidly?

Lorre is effectively speaking to us from deep inside a life, an enterprise and industry moving at speed.  Lorre is our Pepys, reporting in real time.  He is speaking with astounding candor. In 100 years, this is going to make a fantastic resource.  Even in the present day, it is a window on a world.

Not infrequently it has a certain "postcard from the edge" quality.  Just how much of this, you wonder, can one man take.  I have long believed that a culture that specializes in creating and encouraging swift selves (selves, that is to say, that must move a pace to get the job done) ought to have worked out a way to reel them in at the appropriate moment.  These careers are really like runaway cars.  It is impossible to disembark with grace or skill.  The best you can hope for is that you will roll on impact and survive for future stunts.  (But that’s just me being a worry wart.  Chuck Lorre is a genius and one of the advantages of being this smart is that you can use it to "find your way down.")

In the meantime, I recommend you have a look at these astonishing postcards from deep inside the industry (and our culture).  


Hibberd, James.  2010.  Why This Man Has 40,000,000 viewers.  Hollywood Reporter. December 01.

Lorre, Chuck.  n.d.  Vanity Card archive.

McCracken, Grant.  2007.  The Charlie and Barney Show: Birth of a New American Male. This Blog.  January 3.

McCracken, Grant.  2008.  Transformations: Identity construction in a contemporary culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.