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Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal says there could never be a “true” reboot or revival for the CBS comedy due to the loss of comedic icons who played Raymond and Robert’s parents (and often stole the show) — Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts.
“It just wouldn’t be the same without them,” Rosenthal tells The Hollywood Reporter.
However, Boyle’s memory has been honored since his passing in 2006 after a four-year battle with multiple myeloma (the second most common blood cancer in the world) thanks to his wife, Loraine Alterman Boyle, joining the International Myeloma Foundation.
With the pandemic causing this year’s gala to go virtual and there being a surge of nostalgic reunions for good causes, collectively those behind IMF’s annual gala thought what better way to honor Boyle’s memory and make the most of the virtual event than a reunion of the Everybody Loves Raymond cast?
So Ray Romano (who played Ray Barone), Patricia Heaton (Debra Barone), Brad Garrett (Robert Barone), Rosenthal’s wife Monica Horan (Amy Barone) and more cast members recently revisited their characters for a 90-minute reunion table read — along with Rosenthal reading stage directions — which will stream on Oct. 23 for the 14th Annual International Myeloma Foundation’s Annual Comedy Celebration.
The foundation has been rallying comedians including Romano, Kevin Nealon and Patton Oswalt to raise funds for a cure via IMF Virtual Comedy Celebration each year. Since 2007, the annual event has featured over 50 celebrity comedians and musical performers and raised more than $7 million for the Peter Boyle Research Fund, which supports the IMF’s groundbreaking Black Swan Research Initiative.
The Raymond reunion, which was recorded virtually via Zoom by producer Ken Shapiro (one of the directors of Everybody Loves Raymond), offered a chance for the cast to revisit six beloved scenes. “It was such a joy to go through these scripts again and then have the cast read them again. Not only did we laugh a lot, but we were just reminded of what a special time it was, how special everyone is to each other,” Rosenthal says, noting the nostalgic experience was enveloped by the importance of coming together to remember Boyle and support IMF.
The series creator also believes the reunion will resonate with anyone watching today — longtime fans or newcomers — thanks to one key detail. “We wrote it to be timeless, meaning there were no topical jokes in the show that might date it. That was a conscious decision.”
Now Rosenthal is all too aware that living amid a pandemic can spark a need for escapism, such as binging feel-good shows like the upcoming fourth season of his Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil (Oct. 30). But he and his wife agree fundraising-focused events such as Parks and Recreation‘s reunion for Feeding America and The Princess Bride‘s reunion to benefit Wisconsin Democrats, and now the Everybody Loves Raymond reunion can offer both a break from 2020’s onslaught of negative news while offering an option for people to do good.
“The number one thing here is to support the International Myeloma Foundation, find a cure for this disease, pay tribute to our friend Peter Boyle,” Rosenthal says. “And if you like what you see, watch everybody in their upcoming projects. That’s a good way to just keep the feeling of Raymond, which I think is all over my show. The feeling of it — the love of family and friends and food is there. It’s in everybody else’s work who was involved in the show because that’s who we are.”
“What we have always heard through the years about the show is it strikes a familiar chord in people,” Horan adds. “That’s why this is so sentimental and special because we hear people telling stories about how this is the one thing they could watch with their parents, or people who were struggling through difficult things in life, it got them through, which I think a lot of comedies do.”
The Everybody Loves Raymond reunion will stream online Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET through IMF’s YouTube channel and IMF’s Facebook page. Signed mics used by cast members for the virtual table read will be auctioned off on charitybuzz.com/IMF starting October 20 with all proceeds benefitting the Peter Boyle Research Fund and supporting the International Myeloma Foundation’s signature Black Swan Research Initiative.
More details on how to watch and donate to IMF can be found here.
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Jamie Lee Curtis