'Big Bang Theory' Sheldon prequel series in the works at CBS

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CBS is looking to keep TV's No. 1 comedy series going — with a twist.

The network is developing a spinoff of The Big Bang Theory, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Sources say the comedy, from Big Bang co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady and overseen by showrunner Steve Molaro, will center around the young version of Emmy winner Jim Parsons' Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Insiders describe the project as Malcolm in the Middle but with a young and potentially teenage version of Sheldon. None of the Big Bang Theory cast are said to be involved in the potential prequel series outside of Parsons, who will exec produce.

CBS and Big Bang producers Warner Bros. Television declined comment. The project, which is said to have landed at CBS with a sizable penalty attached, will be a single-camera comedy — a shift from Big Bang's traditional multicamera format. Additional details about the project are being kept under wraps.

The spinoff comes as Big Bang is in its 10th season and has not yet been renewed beyond that. The comedy ranks as TV's most-watched comedy among the all-important adults 18-49 demographic.

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LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Trevor (Blake Anderson), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: (L-R) Moderator Alie Ward, executive producers Chuck Lorre, Steven Molaro, Bill Prady, actors Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar attend The Paley Center For Media's 33rd Annual PALEYFEST Los Angeles ÃThe Big Bang Theory' at Dolby Theatre on March 16, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 09: (L-R) Actors Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch, Kunal Nayyar, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik and Johnny Galecki perform onstage during the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images)
MUST SEE TV: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO JAMES BURROWS -- Pictured: (l-r) Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 2: 'The Positive Negative Reaction' -- Bernadette is concerned when Wolowitz freaks out over her pregnancy announcement, and Wolowitz is convinced he must make more money to provide for the baby, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 18 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 19: 'The Valentino Submergence' -- Sheldon and Amy host a live Valentine's Day episode of Fun with Flags, Leonard and Penny grapple with getting older, Howard and Bernadette find a surprise in their hot tub and Raj is torn between Emily and the cute girl he met at the Comic Bookstore, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 11 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Jim Parsons and Kunal Nayyar (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: 'The Celebration Experimentation' -- After more than nine years together, the gang finally celebrates Sheldon's birthday, surprising him with a special guest, on the 200th episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Jim Parsons, Kunal Nayyar, Sara Gilbert, Kevin Sussman, Adam West, Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, John Ross Bowie, Wil Wheaton, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 2: 'The Positive Negative Reaction' -- Bernadette is concerned when Wolowitz freaks out over her pregnancy announcement, and Wolowitz is convinced he must make more money to provide for the baby, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 18 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 30: 'The Pulled Groin Extrapolation' -- Sheldon and Penny wonder how they'll get along when Leonard goes to a wedding as Amy's date. Meanwhile, Howard (Simon Helberg, left) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch, right) spend the weekend with Mrs. Wolowitz, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Sept. 29 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 23: 'The Workplace Proximity' -- Howard (Simon Helberg, left) finds himself sleeping on Raj'™s couch after a fight with Bernadette, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Oct. 17 (8:00 -“ 8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Also pictured: Johnny Galecki (right) (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 15: 'The Gorilla Dissolution' -- Howard (Simon Helberg, left) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch, right) struggle to care for Mrs. Wolowitz, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 8 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kaley Cuoco is seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on September 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Kaley Cuoco is seen in Los Angeles on September 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Kaley Cuoco is seen in Los Angeles on September 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Kaley Cuoco (R) and husband Ryan Sweeting (L) attend HBO's 2014 Emmy after party at The Plaza at the Pacific Design Center on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Rihanna, Steve Martin and Jim Parsons are all guests on 'Good Morning America,' 3/13/15, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Kaley Cuoco arrives to the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
BURBANK - JULY 23: Gallery Promo Coverage of CBS' THE BIG BANG THEORY, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 18: Actress Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting arrives at The PEOPLE Magazine Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 18, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MAY 18: CBS announces their new fall schedule. (Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images) *** CBS presented its 2016-17 prime time schedule today (May 18) at Carnegie Hall, where many of the Networks new and returning series stars were in attendance. Pictured L-R: Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, and Johnny Galecki from THE BIG BANG THEORY *** Melissa Rauch;Mayim Bialik;Simon Helberg;Kaley Cuoco;Jim Parsons;Johnny Galecki
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 9: 'The Hook-Up Reverberation' -- Raj's honesty about his past comes back to haunt him after his girlfriend, Emily, is cold to Penny. Also, the guys consider becoming part-owners in Stuart's comic book store, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Oct. 6 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Laura Spencer, Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
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Key to the show's continuation — either as the flagship or a spinoff — comes as the show's cast — Parsons, Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard), Kunal Nayyar (Raj), Mayim Bialik (Amy) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) — are all currently negotiating new deals for a likely 11th season and beyond. ources say the cast are all seeking pay raises from their historic contracts reached two years ago when the show was picked up for a three-season renewal.

"We are very confident that everyone involved wants more Big Bang past year 10 and I know Warner Bros. will make those deals," CBS president Glenn Geller told reporters in August at TCA.

Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco last negotiated together in 2014 and were seeking big salary increases. Sources at the time told THR that the trio secured about $1 million per half-hour with an increased cut of the show's backend from 0.25 percent to 1.25 percent. The deals are said to bring the three into the Friends region, with that cast negotiating together and locking in $1 million per episode with studio WBTV. (Big Bang Theory is a massive hit in syndication, with TBS' repeats regularly topping the weekly syndication ratings.) The pacts also included overall deals and more. Co-stars Bialik and Rauch previously inked new deals with WBTV, with both earning big raises two years ago when the cast's contract talks began but before Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco's rich deal.

Talking with THR in 2013, producers Lorre, Molaro and Prady joked that they could never envision doing a spinoff of Big Bang. "I can't imagine doing that. I couldn't imagine taking any part of this show and separating it; it's all once piece to me. I can't wrap my head around splintering someone away from this show," Lorre said. Prady, meanwhile, joked he'd like to do a one-hour spinoff with Stuart from the comic book show. For his part, WBTV-based Molaro seemed the most open-minded about an off-shoot. "I'm so head-first and knee-deep into these characters and so in love with this show and the characters that are on it," he toldTHRin 2013. "We're just scratching the surface of a lot of these relationships. I can't even think about a spinoff. The show is a priority and I love it as a writer and as a fan. That's just so far away, it's too far off the radar for me to even give you an honest answer about that. I live the show, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it and want it to be great. Maybe someday but right now this is the focus."

During its 10-season run, many references have been made to Sheldon's childhood, growing up as a gifted youngster in Texas with a religious mother. A potential Sheldon prequel would likely have to involve Laurie Metcalf, who has recurred throughout Big Bang's 10-year run as Mary Cooper, Sheldon's mom. A prequel series would also give the writers a lot of material to work with given Sheldon's history — as well as a structure to follow. Big Bang, unlike most series on TV, does not plot out its arcs and seasons ahead of time but rather the writers take it episode by episode.

If the Big Bang prequel were to move forward, it would give WBTV-based Lorre at least two series on the air next year and join Netflix's pot comedy Disjointed, starring Kathy Bates, and likely three series should contract talks move forward on Big Bang. He's also teaming with Amazon for a Bonfire of the Vanitiesminiseries.

Lorre is repped by UTA; Prady is with Rothman Brecher and Molaro.


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