The Untold Truth Of ‘The Big Bang Theory’
The Big Bang Theory quietly debuted on CBS in 2007. Once reruns of the show started appearing on local stations in cable, the ensemble sitcom exploded in popularity, and original episodes routinely rank near the top of the weekly network TV ratings while reruns dominate the list of most-watched cable shows. Here’s a look at some stories and scandals behind the scenes of the America’s favorite sitcom about science nerds.
Big changes were made after the pilot
The Big Bang that’s aired for a decade is very different from the pilot episode presented to CBS in 2006. While he’s now depicted as asexual and mystified by romance, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) was sexually active in the pilot. There was also no Penny (Kaley Cuoco); instead, the attractive neighbor was a tough, not-very-friendly woman named Katie (portrayed by Amanda Walsh). Leonard (Johnny Galecki) wore suits instead of hoodies, and there was one other change: The theme song was Thomas Dolby’s 1983 hit, “She Blinded Me With Science.” CBS passed, but asked creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady to rework the show and submit another pilot. They did (adding an original theme by Barenaked Ladies)—and it made it to the air in 2007.
Melissa Rauch doesn’t sound like Bernadette in real life
Bernadette’s mousy, high-pitched voice—and loud moments of screaming rage—don’t come naturally to her portrayer, Melissa Rauch. Although she doesn’t sound like Bernadette in real life, Rauch took her inspiration from a source close to home: her own mother. Although the two women share vocal DNA, they have one major difference—Bernadette lacks her real-life counterpart’s thick New Jersey accent.
The main three stars get paid big bucks
Production of the show’s eighth season was delayed in 2014 due to contract re-negotiations between the cast and Warner Bros TV. Ultimately, CBS renewed the show for an unprecedented three seasons (keeping TBBT on the air through 2017) and Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco secured a salary of $1 million per episode—each.
The rest of the cast earns a lot, too (but not as much as the stars)
Simon Helberg (Howard) and Kunal Nayyar (Raj) re-negotiated their new contracts collectively, winding up with salaries of around $750,000 per episode. A settlement was reached the day before their old contracts ran out, and the duo would’ve reportedly been written out of the show had they not accepted the deal.
Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco secretly dated for years
While Cuoco has been tabloid fodder due to her brief marriage to (and high-profile divorce from) tennis player Ryan Sweeting, she avoided the spotlight while she was in her previous relationship…even though it was with a co-star on her top-rated TV show. Cuoco and Johnny Galecki dated from 2007 to 2009 and kept it a secret from not only the media, but from the Big Bang cast and crew.
Mayim Bialik was on the show before she was on the show
In the 2008 episode “The Bat Jar Conjecture,” Sheldon quits the group’s physics bowl team. Raj aims high in his suggestion for a replacement, naming “the girl who played TV’s Blossom,” as she’d earned a Ph.D in real life. That actress is Mayim Bialik…who later joined the cast as Amy Farrah Fowler. Also under consideration for that role was actress and Garfunkel and Oates musician Kate Miccuci. She was edged out for the part by Bialik, but producers liked her so much that they wrote a part for her: Lucy, the extremely introverted woman Raj briefly dates.
“Soft Kitty” might have been stolen
Co-creator Bill Prady says he heard Sheldon’s special calm-down song being sung at his daughter’s preschool. Assuming it was in the public domain, he added it to the show, where it’s been used multiple times and on scores of Big Bang merchandise. In 2015, however, the family of a New Hampshire teacher named Edith Newlin sued CBS and Bill Prady Productions for copyright infringement, alleging they lifted lyrics from Newlin’s 1937 song “Warm Kitty.” The main difference: The 1937 song begins, “Warm kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur.” The Big Bang version starts out, “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur.”