Ugh. Another day, another (supposedly) sexist TV executive…
According to Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal, CBS initially had a very different idea for who should play the titular character’s wife on the hit comedy! While chatting with Yahoo Entertainment on Wednesday, the screenwriter admitted the network allegedly wanted someone sexier than actress Patricia Heaton, who ultimately booked the role, to play Ray Romano’s wife.
The 61-year-old funny man claimed:
“CBS wanted someone hotter to play Debra.”
The casting decision got so heated that the Somebody Feed Phil star “almost quit the show over it.” Wow!
While he wouldn’t name names, Rosenthal explained that he was required to meet with an unnamed actress who the powers-that-be “insisted” get the part. And the starlet felt pretty confident she was going to land the role because she initially refused to even audition! Discussing that meeting, he recalled:
“I thought she was wrong, but I met with her and she was a very pleasant, very nice person. She wasn’t going to read for the role but during the meeting, I convinced her to read a little bit with me.”
She probably should have stuck to her guns and not read for the part because she was SO bad for Debra, according to the producer who added:
“And she was 10 times worse for the part than I thought she would be!”
Yikes!! And the execs would have been willing to hire the wrong (and reportedly not very talented) actress just cause she was so-called prettier?? Such a dumb business move. But instead of Phil heading into a meeting yelling, “I told you so,” the creative kept the actress on his list of potential picks to please his bosses. He even claimed he “loved her,” remembering:
“I said, ‘I love her and I’ve loved everything she’s been in. I think she’s terrific and beautiful.’”
Now that he proved he had given her a fair chance, he respectfully added:
“‘But then she read for me and I have to tell you it’s just not what I wrote. I just don’t see them as a couple. I think she could do it, but I also think that maybe we could do better.’”
Because of that speech, he was able to convince then-CEO Les Moonves to open up a wider search for the right actress! The Exporting Raymond writer continued:
“ said, ‘Well, it’s just an idea.’ In other words, he let me slide and we agreed to keep looking!”
Of course, the story has a happy ending. Just weeks later, they’d found their leading lady!
“Two weeks later, Patty walked in and within five minutes she had the part. When it’s right, it’s right, and you know it immediately.”
And it was right. Everybody Loves Raymond went on to film nine seasons for CBS between 1996 to 2005. The series followed Long Island-based sports columnist Ray Barone, played by Romano, and the everyday craziness of his Italian-American family. Series regulars included all-stars Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle, Monica Horan, Madylin Sweeten, and twins Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten.
The comedy is still popular today, but fans shouldn’t expect a reboot. Ray candidly shut down that idea in 2018 while speaking to UPI, citing the deaths of Roberts (in 2016) and Boyle (in 2006), who played his mom, Marie, and dad, Frank, respectively:
“ both agree. The parents are gone. Both parents are gone and they were so the show.”
Sadly, the cast has also lost child actor Sawyer, who passed away at 19, so it would be hard to move forward with the same enthusiasm while missing so many beloved co-stars. He added:
“It’s so not the show then. We just don’t believe it would do the show justice or be good enough to do it. Not only that but one of the kids is gone also. So, I never say never, but I think it’s ‘no.’”
A reunion special is not out of the question, though no network or streaming service has seemed interested in that yet. While discussing the popularity of the show with SiriusXM’s Pop Culture Spotlight with Jessica Shaw, the 63-year-old shared in July:
“I’ve pitched to now a couple of different places. We can do a reunion special. We can tell stories of the things that have happened to us at home, and then show a clip of the Raymond episode, and I think it will be entertaining and funny and you’ll get a chance to catch up with the cast as they are now.”
He even called out the Friends crew for their successful get-together, noting:
“And it seemed to work for Friends and, uh, no takers. Not yet. Maybe someone will hear this and say, ‘Hey, this seems like a no-brainer.’ I think people like the show, I think they would like to see the cast together. Again, I think they would like to revisit some of the highlights and outtakes from the show.”
Perhaps this unearthed controversy might have more viewers interested in reminiscing on the series and learning the behind-the-scenes scoop?! Time will tell, we guess.
Are you surprised Patricia almost didn’t land this iconic role?? Sound OFF in the comments (below)!
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