Chuck Lorre (left) and Charlie Sheen
Frederick M. Brown/Getty
02/25/2011 at 07:00 PM EST
The latest TV drama to grab viewers' attention is not on the small screen: It's the clash of TV titans
Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre, the star vs. the creator of Two and a Half Men
So just who is the man behind the scenes of the successful TV show that's kept Sheen in steady employment for the past eight years?
Born Charles Levine in 1952, the twice-married Lorre got an inauspicious start as a short-order cook and soda jerk at his dad's luncheonette on New York's Long Island before going into TV writing, and finally making it big as an executive producer.
Thing 1: Tough but Likeable
A 2007 Entertainment Weekly
profile labeled him "the angriest man in television," but many who work with him say he's a good boss.
"He's a great guy and treats the crew and everybody really well," says a source on the set of Men
. "He throws nice parties for the crew and invites a lot of people over to his place for the opening of the [show] season and gets it all catered."
Adds the source, "Chuck isn't one to avoid a confrontation. If Chuck gets a little bit perturbed, he can get really strict. He likes to do things his way, period. There's no other way."
Known as a hands-on producer, Lorre has worked on Roseanne
and Dharma & Greg
, and has recently been running three shows at once: Two and a Half Men
, Mike & Molly
and The Big Bang Theory
Thing 2: Vanity Card Author
He's also known for creating the industry's wordiest vanity cards – those production company logos that show up after the credits.
One that aired on Valentine's Day read, in part, "I exercise regularly. I eat moderate amounts of healthy food. I be sure to get plenty of rest… If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really pissed."
Sheen said on a radio show Thursday that he didn't find that funny, calling Lorre a "clown."
On the same day Sheen let loose his rant against Lorre, the vanity card on his Web site
was titled simply: "CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #333: CENSORED!"
"It was more fun writing these things when I was fairly certain no one was reading them. That is no longer the case," Lorre wrote. "These days it seems like every vanity card is getting scrutinized and criticized."
Thing Half: Lowering the Temperature
But from now on he's going to "let things cool off a little," promising that, "No longer will I share some troublesome piece of my mind."
Reporting by AILI NAHASPlease note: Comments have been suspended temporarily as we explore better ways to serve you. Your opinion is important to us; you can find current discussions at facebook.com/peoplemag.