March 8, 2006

‘Raymond’ veterans hope to avoid ‘curse’

By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For nine seasons,
millions of viewers loved everybody on CBS' "Everybody Loves
Raymond." Now some of the key individuals behind that show are
about to find out how they rate on their own.

Patricia Heaton, a two-time Emmy winner for her work on
"Raymond," is starring in an untitled ABC sitcom about a
recently widowed woman who begins a new life after joining the
PTA. Three-time Emmy victor Brad Garrett heads the cast of
Fox's "'Til Death," an ensemble comedy in which he will play a
long-married man who lives next door to newlyweds.

Additionally, "Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal and two of
his top writers have joined forces on the CBS comedy pilot
"Play Nice."

Heaton and Garrett's return to TV is sure to evoke
comparisons to the "'Seinfeld' curse," referring to the lack of
post-"Seinfeld" success for the show's co-stars Jason
Alexander, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who is
awaiting this month's debut of her second post-"Seinfeld"
sitcom, CBS' "The New Adventures of Old Christine.")

"It's much harder for actors than writers because the
audience is attached to faces and the way it's used to seeing
them," Rosenthal says. "With writers, as long as the faces
change, the audience is flexible."

Except for Richards, who starred in a short-lived NBC
comedy two years after "Seinfeld" ended in 1998, Alexander,
Louis-Dreyfus and "Cheers" alumni Ted Danson (who is back in
pilot contention this year with ABC's "Help Me Help You"), Rhea
Perlman, Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long waited at least three
years before returning to series television.

Matt LeBlanc, on the other hand, only took the summer off
in 2004 between the end of "Friends" and the start of the
spinoff "Joey," which has struggled through its second season
and is not expected to be renewed. Lisa Kudrow went to the
cozier environs of HBO for "The Comeback" but did not connect
in a major way with viewers. Matthew Perry is looking to go
back to NBC in the Aaron Sorkin-penned drama "Studio 60 on the
Sunset Strip."

For "Play Nice," about a brother and sister who run a
family-owned toy company, Rosenthal and writers Lew Schneider
and Tucker Cawley turned to a "Raymond" supporting player, Fred

"Fred is a character actor, and I think the audience
accepts him more easily in different roles," Rosenthal says.

So will there be a "Raymond" curse?

"I'm hoping there isn't," Rosenthal says.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter