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by Corinne Heller | Fri., May. 29, 2015 2:38 PM
David Livingston/Getty Images
The Big Bang Theory folks are giving back in a big way.
Co-creator Chuck Lorre, cast members such as Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Jim Parsons and dozens of others involved with the show have raised more than $4 million to establish a scholarship fund at UCLA, which will provided financial aid to undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (dubbed STEM). The popular CBS sitcom is about a group of young physicists.
"We have all been given a gift with The Big Bang Theory, a show that's not only based in the scientific community, but also enthusiastically supported by that same community," Lorre said in a statement released by the college this week. "This is our opportunity to give back."
UCLA said the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation mad made an initial donation, followed by contributions from Sweeting, Parsons, co-stars Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, as well as executive producers, crew members and CBS, studio Warner Bros. Television and other corporate partners.
And the first group of scholarship recipients will get to meet the Big Bang Theory cast! Their names will be announced this fall on the set of the show, which will then begin its ninth season, and will be joined by the cast and producers, UCLA representatives and benefactors, the college announced.
Bialik is a UCLA grad; The actress and Blossom alum, who plays Amy Farrah Fowler, received a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish studies and later obtained her doctorate in neuroscience. The Big Bang Theory's science consultant is UCLA physics and astronomy professor David Saltzberg.
Lorre himself attended the State University of New York at Potsdam and dropped out to pursue songwriting, EW.com reported in 2007. SUNY Potsdam gave him an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2009 in recognition of his "contributions to the entertainment industry and his work to support healthcare opportunities for the less fortunate."
Lorre began his TV writing career in the '80s, co-creating the popular cartoon Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats, penning scripts for hit sitcoms such as My Two Dads, Charles in Charge and Roseanne and later launching the comedy shows Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly, Mom and, yes, The Big Bang Theory. Forbes reported in 2011 that the showrunner's annual earnings were $35 million.
Cuoco-Sweeting, who plays Penny on the show, was the No. 3 highest-paid TV actresses in 2014 with annual earnings of $12 million, according to Forbes. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper, was No. 7 on the outlet's list of highest-paid TV actors, with $11 million.
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