Honor for ‘Big Bang’ brings cast to tears
Beloved show will end its run on its own memorial stage
BURBANK, Calif. – Last week, the people who make TV’s top comedy “The Big Bang Theory” offered the press its first glimpse of an episode run-through as actors read the script on the show’s sets.
But this time, the weekly exercise came with a bronze plaque and the dedication of Warner Bros.’ Stage 25, the home of Sheldon, Leonard, Penny and their friends, as The Big Bang Theory Stage. It’s only the fifth show in studio history to get such an honor on the sprawling lot, joining “Friends,” E.R.,” “Two and a Half Men,” and the talk show “Ellen.”
The plaque unveiling, held in the living room of the apartment once shared by Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), was just one of many moments those involved with the CBS comedy will remember as they near the series’ 279th and final
episode, moving it past “Cheers” to set a record for TV’s longest-running comedy taped in front of a studio audience.
“You come to work every day to make a good show,” co-creator Chuck Lorre said. “We don’t think about getting a plaque, but the plaque is extremely rewarding. It makes the show part of the history of the lot.”
Nearby, Kaley Cuoco, who has played Penny since the series premiered in 2007, was feeling the emotions of the day and the closing weeks on a show that made her and fellow cast members rich and famous.
“I am, like, already losing it. These last few episodes have been really heartbreaking,” said Cuoco, standing next to the forever-broken apartment elevator as a tear streamed down her cheek. “This sounds cheesy, but I’ve passed the ‘Friends’ stage for 20 years as an actor, and I always wanted our stage to be that way. I always thought that was so cool. This is really special.”
Cuoco sported a necklace with a “12” pendant, one of five she had made for herself and the support team that helps her with hair/makeup, wardrobe and other preparation. But there’s a much larger group of people, many behind the scenes, responsible for the success of “Big Bang,” Cuoco and others noted.
“If there was a recipe for the kind of chemistry that’s here on the stage and in the writers room, every show would last 280-some episodes,” Galecki said. (Parsons left immediately after the dedication and was not available for interviews.)
Although Thursday marked a special occasion, the run-through of “The Conference Valuation,” to air in March, went much like the many before it as part of the five-day production process, from a “table read” to the final taping with an audience.
The episode, which finds Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Penny butting heads at a pharmaceutical convention and Amy (Mayim Bialik) trying to manipulate Sheldon (Jim Parsons) into wanting kids, was spread across several sets on the vast soundstage.
For each scene, more than five dozen people gathered at the Wolowitz home, the pharmaceutical convention, a hotel and the iconic living-room set, as longtime director Mark Cendrowski offered stage directions and cast members dressed in street clothes and offcamera hairdos – a more stylish cut for Simon Helberg (Wolowitz) and straight locks for Rauch – recited lines, sometimes consulting scripts.
Before a scene in Leonard and Penny’s apartment, Parsons stood in the hall, practicing dialogue. Galecki, reading at the kitchen table, borrowed a pen from a desk on set to mark his script with notes.
The scenes moved quickly as writers and crew punctuated each joke with aggressive laughter to simulate an audience response before everyone shuffled to the next set on the stage.
After the run-through, the writers start rewriting as part of a process that continues through Tuesday’s taping.
“We’ll make things better or make them go away,” said Lorre, who also oversees “Big Bang” prequel “Young Sheldon,” CBS comedy “Mom” and Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method.” “If it’s not working in front of a live audience, in all likelihood it will not work at home. So, fix it or forget it, but don’t put it on television, because then you can’t ever fix it again.”
With the stage dedication, the cast and crew paused to take in the moment, as just seven episodes remain.
And while CBS and Warner Bros. would welcome a spinoff, Lorre says there are no plans “that I’m aware of. … This feels like a wonderful way to take a bow and go before they start throwing fruit.”
Kunal Nayyar called the mood “bittersweet,” a common reaction when a successful series comes to a close.
But he’s enjoying the experience, feeling the pressure is off with the end in sight.
“If there was a recipe for the kind of chemistry that’s here on the stage and in the writers room, every show would last 280-some episodes.”
Kaley Cuoco, left, takes a group photo of “The Big Bang Theory” cast and producers just after Warner Bros. dedicated the Burbank soundstage to the top-rated CBS comedy, which finishes its 12-season run in May.