Since 2009, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ has been nominated for 46 Primetime Emmy Awards. It has won ten to date.
The Emmy’s are just around the corner, and it’s hoped that this year The Big Bang Theory will go out with, well, a bang.
Since 2009, The Big Bang Theory has been nominated for 46 Primetime Emmy Awards and has won ten to date. The show has three nominations this year including one for Mark Cendrowski for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.
2019 isn’t the first time he’s been nominated but, once again, he’s the only multi-camera director up for the award.
“As a professional, being nominated like this can’t be beaten,” he told me as we chatted on the phone during his downtime shooting Big Bang spin-off, Young Sheldon. “What you want to do is be at the top in your field. Being nominated is like being told you’ve made it, it confirms that. There’s the old saying that it’s great just to be nominated and it is.”
“I’ve had it happen a couple of times, and I’ve had a couple of DGA nominations and, professionally, there’s nothing better. It also means more because the multi-camera format is still one of the toughest mediums to do in TV. It’s tough to do well, especially week in and week out. The last five to ten years has seen a big move to single camera, people like that because they think it’s fresher or hipper, and the multi-camera is old fashioned because they did shows like I Love Lucy that way.”
He added: “It’s still just as hard to do because you have that live audience there that is telling you, every single time, whether things are working or not. There’s nothing better than to complete an episode in front of a live audience. It’s like we’re doing a play.”
But has it ever gone wrong?
“Oh yeah. And you feel it,” Cendrowski laughed. “It’s like, ‘Ooooh. We did not expect that.’ When we get that reaction, the writers immediately gather around and start pitching ideas to try and fix it quickly. It didn’t happen very often on The Big Bang Theory, but it happened. It’s happened on other shows I’ve done too where tumbleweeds are just blowing through.”
“In fact, on The Big Bang Theory, we more often had the opposite problem, especially in the last couple of years, once the show was so ingrained in the culture, you had audience numbers that would almost be too enthusiastic. They where they were so excited to be there, so energized and so excited to see these actors, that they were laughing at setups and then you couldn’t hear what the actual joke was. Sometimes we’d have to cut and ask the audience to slow down a little bit and wait for the jokes.”
There was a particular moment a few years back when the director knew he had a bonafide hit on his hands – and it happened in one of the places he least expected to have an epiphany.
“The show had only been out a month or two, I was at my daughter’s softball practice, one of her coaches realized I was the director, and he went on and on about how much he loved the show. He was the last person in the world that I thought was going to relate to The Big Bang Theory, and it made me think. He wasn’t nerdy, he was a young guy, and I realized that the bottom line is that it is a show is one that anyone human can relate to. Any guy who has had trouble talking to women, it doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber or a salesman or whatever, we’ve all been through it.”
Mark Cendrowski at the 65th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles.
At that moment, Cendrowski knew the show had legs. He added: “At first people thought The Big Bang Theory might only have a limited appeal, but it turned out that it, and the characters in it, had a very much universal appeal.”
“Seeing the popularity of Friends 20 years later, I think the same thing is going to happen with The Big Bang Theory because the signs are there. I travel around the world, I’ve found myself talking to people in China about it, I was on a train in Norway, and I was talking to some people from Egypt who loved the show. This show is reaching audiences that I wasn’t even really aware of.”
The Big Bang Theory is not only wildly popular, but it also became a brand in its own right. After 12 seasons and 279 episodes, The Big Bang Theory ended its run on CBS on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Watched by over 20 million people at its peak, it’s no surprise that the show became highly lucrative resulting in a $1 billion annual syndication deal and generating over $3.57 billion in TV advertising revenue – that’s even before you factor in the money that has been made from merchandise and licensing.
Now working on The Big Bang Theory spin-off, Young Sheldon, Cendrowski has a feeling that the show might be over, but maybe it’s not over.
“With Young Sheldon, it’s a little bit like going back in time where I have to think about things that I’ve done with a character in his 20s and onwards, but now I’ve got to think of him as an 11-year-old. I’ve got to make his new past fit his old future. It’s certainly a challenge. At the end of The Big Bang Theory’s run, once we decided to end the show, Chuck Lorre, the creator, was like, ‘Look not everyone’s involved in this, it’s not a Big Bang episode.’”
He added: “That’s not to say that there may not be something down the line, but I don’t think anyone wanted to jump into the next season and spin someone off immediately. I think the idea of letting things percolate a little, and you don’t want to cash in. That doesn’t mean that won’t happen and, in a couple of years, maybe it’s a character or a couple of characters that catch up within a couple of years. Who knows if it will happen. I wouldn’t be a betting man on that, and I don’t know one way or the other.”
“I think with these characters you’re going to want to know what happens to them in a few years. If in five years Chuck Lorre decided to bring back some characters and try something again, I would love to be involved. It would be just a continuation. There’s plenty to explore with their lives and characters moving forward. That said, it would have to its own show with its own reason for being.”
The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will take place in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday, September 14, 2019.
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