‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Star Ray Romano Was Fired From This Sitcom
Ray Romano became a household name when his show Everybody Loves Raymond launched in 1996. With an ensemble cast that included Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, and Peter Boyle, the CBS sitcom was a ratings hit during its nine seasons on the air.
Starting his career in standup comedy, Romano previously revealed that he had lined up a different role before Raymond but was soon given his walking papers.
Ray Romano gets an offer from David Letterman
In an interview with NPR, Romano spoke of his career as a standup comedian before becoming a sitcom star.
“I had been doing standup for 11 years,” Romano said in 2019. “I did Johnny Carson in 1991, I did Leno a couple times, I did every stand-up show they had. Evening At The Improv, the MTV – all those shows – I had my own HBO half-hour, and I loved doing it.”
After an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1995, Romano recalled a life-changing phone call he received from the executive producer of the iconic night time talk show.
“[Rob Burnett] said, ‘Listen, Dave liked what he saw. … I just want to tell you that we’re interested,'” Romano explained, sharing how Everybody Loves Raymond originated. “‘Before you sign anything else with anybody else, we’re interested.’ And then, right away – I told them right there … ‘If you’re interested, I’m interested.’ Sure enough, we signed a deal. And here I am.”
Ray Romano’s brother inadvertently named the show
Most fans of Everybody Loves Raymond know the sitcom is loosely based on the lives of Romano and co-creator Phil Rosenthal. Romano’s brother Richard, a New York City police officer, often commented on the differences in their occupations.
“I got an award, or I got something for stand-up comedy,” the sitcom star said. “And he would jokingly, kind of tongue-in-cheek he’d say, ‘Well, look at Raymond. Raymond gets awards when he goes to work. You know, when I go to work, people shoot at me. People spit at me. When Raymond goes, everybody loves Raymond.'”
When Rosenthal heard the story, he jumped on the infamous line to name the show despite Romano’s trepidation.
“Phil said, ‘Oh, that’s – we have to use that,'” Romano recalled. “‘We have to use that as the title.’ And I said, ‘Well, please don’t.’ … I tried desperately to change that title. … It’s just asking for trouble. … To this day, someone will start an article with, ‘Well, ‘not everybody loves Raymond.'”
No ‘NewsRadio’ for Ray Romano
Apparently, Everybody Loves Raymond wasn’t the first sitcom setup for the standup comic. Landing a role in an NBC comedy in the mid-90s, Romano soon learned about the fickleness of television casting.
“I got fired from NewsRadio,” he told NPR. “I was in the original cast. … And on day two of rehearsal for the pilot, I got let go. Or they went in another direction is what they told us.”
NewsRadio ran on NBC from 1995 to 1999, starring Dave Foley, Maura Tierney, and the late Saturday Night Live alum Phil Hartman. In retrospect, Romano realized why he was cut from the show.
“I deserved to be fired, I think,” the Everybody Loves Raymond star admitted. “Even then I kind of knew I was out of my league. … I wasn’t ready. It didn’t feel right. I had a great audition. … And then I performed for the network. Then at the table read, I could feel I wasn’t quite getting it. … then during rehearsal I could feel it also. I was just stiff. I just wasn’t ready. And I got let go. I got fired.”
All’s well that ends well, since Letterman’s offer to Romano came soon after his NewsRadio experience.
“Five months later, I want to say, is when I did my Letterman spot,” Romano recalled. “And the following year is when Raymond came.”
And the rest is television history.