Eight seasons on, The Big Bang Theory means big bucks
THE Big Bang Theory was never meant to be this big.
In a world where a 13-week run of a show is considered a success, and networks fight an increasingly tough battle for eyeballs, this seemingly old-fashioned multicamera sitcom that gets its laughs from four egghead young men, and the bemused women trying to get a handle on them, is a most unlikely global hit.
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, who plays Penny, confesses: “We did a good pilot and hoped it would get picked up. I don’t think any of us knew it would become what it has.”
TBBT is the No.1 show in the US and the highest-rated sitcom since Friends ended in 2004.
No wonder things got ‘heated’ when cast recently renegotiated their contracts. Work on the eighth season was delayed as they held out for pay rises.
Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Cuoco-Sweeting emerged smiling – each reportedly pockets $1 million an episode. A pretty good outcome given the show has been renewed through season 10. Cuoco-Sweeting, who married tennis player Ryan Sweeting last December, has made it known she “can’t wait to have a baby”, but for now loves every minute on set.
“We have so much fun – seriously, it’s hilarious,” she says. “I really enjoy our rehearsals, but it’s also fun when we get to tape in front of the studio audience.”
But what happens during the live taping if a joke falls flat?
“You get stuck in the middle of the scene waiting for laughs that are never going to happen. You carry on with the scene, but as soon as you stop, the writers jump into action,” she says. “You’ll see 30 people running from out of the darkness with 30 new ideas. We rarely get killed on a joke.”
Can geeks be sexy? “Of course! Smart is absolutely sexy.”
So well is her colleague Parsons going that he had the perfect spot to put his 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Actor – the mantelpiece of the $7 million house he bought in California.
It’s a stark contrast to his life pre- TBBT. He’d had a recurring role in Judging Amy and auditioned for up to 30 TV pilots. When TBBT came up, he was cautiously optimistic.
“The problem in banking on that is there have been a lot of TV shows that were really good, but didn’t catch on,” he says.
Playing intelligent but neurotic Sheldon Cooper doesn’t always come easily. Scientific terminology often stumps him.
“They (producers) give us a pronunciation and definition guide and they’ll even put diagrams in sometimes,” Parsons says.
“I’m on dictionary.com – I’m not kidding – before we do the table read, finding words. It’s got a little ‘how to say it’ guide.”
Additional reporting: Luiane Lee
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Cashed up: Kaley CuocoSweeting and Jim Parsons.