New Show Gives Hope To Nerds

The new show "The Big Bang Theory" isn't so much about a scientific experiment, but about a social experiment: What would happen if two nerdy guys lived across the hall from a girl with twice their beauty and half their IQ?

Kaley Cuoco plays the beautiful young woman who makes her nerdy neighbors incredibly nervous. It's the first leading role for the former star of "8 Simple Rules," the last show done by the late John Ritter, who Cuoco says was "like no other." He was truly like a surrogate father to her, she said.

"I was young. I barely turned 16," she told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "First time I met him, I remember the table wreath. I was playing this sexy character, so I thought I needed to wear something sexy, so he walks in and he's like 'I'm John Ritter. I'm going to be playing your dad and I'm going to need you to put a sweater on.' So it started."

Ritter was a great role model for Cuoco and taught her a lot about working on a sitcom.

Photos: CBS Fall Lineup
"He was so professional," she said. "I think it comes from the top, the whole energy is set, and he just had this energy. He treated the executive producer the same as he treated the mailman. And the way when we would do scenes, every take was different. The audience was so excited to see what he would do next because it was different every time."

But striking out on her own has been just as exciting. Cuoco plays Penny, a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. There is sexual tension between her and her brainy neighbors.

"She's so amused by them, and I think what's sweet is she's so sweet to them. She's genuine. She wants to be friends with them and they're like, 'Ahh! I'm terrified of you. You're scary. You're a girl," she said.

In real life, Cuoco, who adores her dogs and shoes, sees no problems with dating a nerd. Initially, she says women might be attracted to a studly athlete but they always go back to the sweet guys.

"They're sweet as can be. They're charming," she said. "They're absolutely wonderful. I've fallen head over heels for my cast, all four guys. They're like brothers and they're hilarious. I think there are moments, though, where they have a little of their characters inside of them, and I'm like 'Oh my god, I can't sit in this conversation. I have no idea what you're saying.' But the greatest cast in the world."