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Mike & Molly Is A New Chuck Lorre Sitcom Premiering On CBS

Monday, September 20, 2010

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Three things that will come as no surprise to viewers who tune into CBS' new sitcom "Mike & Molly" on Monday: it is about two overweight people looking for love; Chuck Lorre is attached as an executive producer, but it comes from the mind of Mark Roberts (of "Two and a Half Men," also a Lorre creation); and fat jokes are served up as fast as McDonald's hamburgers.

Lorre has built a kingdom out of showcasing lovable losers: the barely functional men of "Men," the nerds of "The Big Bang Theory" and now "Mike & Molly." All originate in fertile grounds for fun-making (Carl says embracing Mike is like "hugging a futon") and are bottomless wells of a certain kind of comedy. But his earlier efforts have underscored the humanity in the social outcast; here, the mix of schadenfreude and reductionism coming from the writers makes "Mike & Molly" cold and calculating, despite its likable leads and cast.

There was the hope that a show that bucks convention by starring two people who approximate the appearance of a vast number of Americans wouldn't merely feature fat setups followed by fat pratfalls (note: a broken finger from such a tumble is more Tarantino than sitcom). Alas, such is not to be. Mike's last name is Biggs, after all. There is no third dimension in personality here, only in body size.Gardell was in Cincinnati because he was on the road as a stand-up comic. “Man, I’ve been a road comic for twenty years. I’m not in a Holiday Inn this weekend I’m excited. When it’s show night and you hear that audience laughter and you know it’s not canned laughter, it’s insane gratification.

It’s awesome. They’re a little more forgiving in the TV studio. You get a chance to do it again, which you don’t get in stand-up. Stand-up is a level playing field. There’s no, hey, let’s do it again. Or, you’re beautiful, so we’ll cut you a break. It’s a live audience on Friday. You suck or you don’t suck. That’s what attracted me to stand-up. There’s no pretending.” Gardell says his hero in movies and television is Jackie Gleason, that Gleason was a band leader who showed the big guy could be cool.

In entertainment, the move toward more portly TV characters is part of a trend that producers say reflects the growing waistlines of Americans. Gardell has no problem calling himself fat, and joked on Wednesday that he had broken a chair when sitting on it earlier in the day."When you are a fat guy in Hollywood, you either play the bad guy, a cop, or a neighbor," said Gardell, 40. "I am humbled to be, at this weight and this age, in Hollywood and working with this team. I can't wait to go to work every day."

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