“Everybody Loves Raymond” is about to become the most watched show in the world.
The long running sitcom – which starred Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton – is being translated and produced for audiences in India, Israel, Egypt and The Netherlands, creator Phil Rosenthal tells XfinityTV.
“England is being negotiated at the moment,” he says. “Even South America is going to happen.”
“I am going to go to (help out in) the countries that I would like to eat in. No offense to Poland, but it is not on the top of my list.”
Rosenthal recently released the documentary movie “Exporting Raymond,” which follows his struggle to launch the show in Russia.
“It is very flattering to be asked to go to another country to help them make a TV show,” he says. “And the thought that it could be done in Russia by our former enemies was so intriguing that to me it seemed like an undeniable adventure. Until I heard that I would have to get kidnap and ransom insurance.
“But then they took care of my fears by getting me a security man. And then my fears were really replaced by the fear of what they were doing to my TV show. By then I was in too deep.”
Which came first: the idea to bring the show overseas or the idea to make the movie?
The movie came first. The head of Sony called me into his office and told me how sitcoms in some form did not exist in Russia until Sony brought “The Nanny” over and translated it. They hired Russian actors and it was a big hit. He said, “Why don’t you go over there, observe how we do it, then come back and write a fictional feature film about the creator of a show who goes to Russia to have his show made.” I said, “If this situation does exist and the people you are telling me about really exist, why not bring a camera crew there and show them what is really happening.” And he said, “I love that. Why don’t you go make that movie about you selling your show over there.”
Would the movie have been as good if things didn’t work out?
Probably not. But no. If anything was different, it would have been a different movie. I didn’t make the situation. I filmed the situation. I turned on the camera and we got what we got. I had no idea what I was going to get, but we got lucky.
How much more difficult was it to make this happen than to make an American sitcom happen?
When you are in the experience you forget. It is like childbirth. You forget how painful it is. Which is why we keep having children. Of course I can point to instances with (the original) Raymond that were just as painful to go through. I wrote a book about it: “You Are Lucky You’re Funny: How Life Becomes A Sitcom.” But yes, we studio executives saying “I don’t get this show. It should be much edgier.”
Was there ever a moment you thought “Raymond” might not get on the air?
Oh, my God. Every step along the way. We barely got on. You pitch a show to a network and say “It’s about a middle aged guy who lives across the street from his parents” and nobody is jumping up and down saying “Oh, my God, what a hot, sexy idea. We have got to put that on television.” So it was all about the execution. We were just lucky that (CBS president) Les Moonves and the people kind of liked the show.