8 items from 2016
A decade ago, Ray Romano found himself in the enviable position of never having to work again. The success of his CBS series “Everybody Loves Raymond” had left him flush with the kind of windfall-for-life that only a hit sitcom can deliver. But his nine-year run as Ray Barone on the definitive family comedy of its era also could have easily sentenced him to typecasting as a TV dad for the rest of his professional life. In a conversation with Variety, Romano spoke about the evolution of his post-“Raymond” career, from TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age” to NBC’s “Parenthood” to his most challenging assignment yet: a 1970s record company exec facing a midlife crisis on HBO’s “Vinyl.”
How did you decide your next moves as an actor after “Raymond” ended in 2005?
There was no game plan. To be blunt, I didn’t have to do anything for money after “Raymond” — which is what my wife keeps telling me after she sees me in a threesome in “Vinyl.” One thing I knew was that I didn’t want to do a four-camera sitcom. I was proud of what we did on “Raymond” — that was my legacy — but I wanted to move on.
Were you concerned about typecasting?
[Typecasting] is just natural when for nine years everybody sees you as that. I’m guilty of that. When we were casting actors [for “Men of a Certain Age”], when someone’s name would come up, I would say, “He’s not right.” It’s just ingrained in you.
Were you surprised at how well-received you were in the much more dramatic role on “Men of a Certain Age”? Was that a big boost for you?
Yes, we were very surprised when it debuted. I’m the first one to self-deprecate, but I couldn’t find a bad review. I wasn’t playing a serial killer or a drug addict — I was playing someone real. I was happy people accepted me. It wasn’t a super stretch of a character — it was kind of like a real-life version of Ray Barone going through some deeper issues. This wasn’t “Dallas Buyers Club.” Then we won a Peabody, which means you get canceled. And one cable show that gets canceled helps free you from that branding as a sitcom guy.
How did you wind up on “Vinyl”? Zak Yankovich is pretty far removed from Ray Barone.
Scorsese had never heard of me before. He’d never seen “Raymond.” I put myself on tape and sent in a video. He told his casting director he’d never heard of me — not that he’d never seen “Raymond” before, but he’d never even heard of me. It was the best backhanded compliment I ever got. It helped me get cast. He didn’t have to overcome Ray Barone when he watched me.
Was it hard to get under the skin of the character?
The hardest thing was getting in the head of a guy this tragic, where he contemplates suicide. It was hard to dig into that and feel what that guy is feeling. … When I was on “Parenthood,” Mae Whitman told me that to play [emotional] scenes, she liked to listen to music to get in the mood. She’d be in a bubble under head-phones. I made a playlist, and oddly it worked for me. It can trigger these emotions. I have Coldplay and Jeff Buckley to thank for those scenes.
Do you enjoy the debauchery featured in “Vinyl”? All joking aside, is it hard to play?
I’ve never had a threesome in real life — I’ll come right out and say that. I was talking to another very good-looking actor on “Vinyl” about that threesome, and I asked him if he’d ever had one. His answer was, “Five or six.” He didn’t even know how many he’d had! I had to be naked, which was terrifying for me. And I had to do it in a scene with Bobby Cannavale. I had to stand up and wear that sock-like wardrobe thing. On the second take, Bobby says to me, “Ray, you don’t gotta wear that for me. Don’t worry about it. I never wear it.” I told him, “I’m not wearing it for you, trust me. I understand why you don’t wear it. I’ve seen that shot of you naked. I need to wear it.” I had to be drunk in that episode, too. For me as an actor, the two scariest things are being drunk and naked. My joke was that the director was never going to yell, “You’re too big!” during the naked scene.
You and Cannavale had such instant chemistry. Did you know each other before the show?
We’d never met before. We became buddies. He’s a New Yorker. We went to Jets games, and he came down to the [Comedy Cellar] to watch me. The hours that guy has to put in on the show, it’s amazing.
Do you go out of your way to make time to do standup comedy?
I play Vegas about seven times a year, at the Mirage. If I’m in New York, I’ll always drop into the Comedy Cellar. I still love to get up there. The thrill is coming up with new material. “Vinyl” was shooting from May to October [last year], so I went on a lot. I don’t think I’ll ever give that up. Some guys do. If I have to be nice to myself and say one thing I’m good at, it’s doing standup. Everything else I suck at. Golf I really suck at, even though I love doing it.
- Cynthia Littleton
McCarthy has” great taste, experience and a phenomenal touch with the material she champions, and she is respected and admired by talent, programming executives, agents and writers,” Shearmur said. “I have known Lillah for many years and am thrilled and excited to partner with her as we expand our footprint in television.”
McCarthy spent 12 years at TNT and TBS, most recently serving as senior VP of original programming. She’s had a hand in most of the cablers’ original series during that span, from “Men of a Certain Age” and “Saving Grace” to “Rizzoli & Isles,” “The Last Ship” and “Falling Skies.”
Before Turner, McCarthy worked as a producer based at Sony Pictures TV, »
- Cynthia Littleton
The fifth annual Atx Television Festival has rounded out its fest programming with the addition of more panels, screenings and discussions, including a “Bury Your Tropes” panel, presented by GLAAD, which will cover the recent discussion surrounding stereotypical portrayals of Lgbtq characters on television.
“Bury Your Tropes” will take on the recent uproar over television storylines, specifically surrounding the many deaths of lesbian characters, plus the larger conversation about the importance of inclusion and positive representation on TV. Panelists are Bradley Bredeweg (“The Fosters”), Javier Grillo-Marxuach (“Lost,” “The 100”), Krista Vernoff (“Shameless,” “Grey’s Anatomy”), Carter Covington (“Faking It”) and GLAAD’s entertainment media strategist Megan Townsend.
Atx has also added events for Hulu’s “The Path,” the final season of USA’s “Royal Pains,” Freeform’s new series “Guilt,” a sit-down with Shondaland’s Betsy Beers, a master class with Howard Gordon and “Power(ful) TV,” a panel discussing »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
Miramax and El Rey Network announced today four new cast additions to the Albuquerque-based production of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, set to return for a third season later this year. Ana de la Reguera (Jane the Virgin, Narcos) will have a recurring role as Lord Venganza Verdugo, one of the seven remaining culebra Lords whose ancient roots and personal history put them at the center of an epic clash between good and evil. Also joining the cast is Chilean martial arts action star, Marko Zaror (Machete Kills), as Zolo, an Aztec warrior trained in hell, and iconic horror movie maven Tom Savini (Friday the 13th, From Dusk Till Dawn). Savini, who starred as Sex Machine in the original film, lights up the brand new role of Burt, a retired demon hunter who smokes more medical marijuana than he sells.
Returning to the El Rey Network supernatural action horror »
HBO's new drama Vinyl is set at a crossroads for the music industry in which its hero, drug-addicted record label president Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale), works. It's 1973, when some of the iconic rock acts of the '60s were still vital — including The Rolling Stones, whose Mick Jagger co-created Vinyl alongside Boardwalk Empire's Terence Winter, director Martin Scorsese, and author Rich Cohen — but were having to make room for new artists and new styles of music. In Sunday's pilot episode, Richie tries to cut a deal with Led Zeppelin, but is also entranced by a live performance of The New York Dolls' punk anthem "Personality Crisis," and intrigued when he drives through the Bronx and overhears hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc spinning two records at once. But for all that Richie is obsessed with finding something new and exciting — "I Want What's Next!" he screams to his terrified »
- Alan Sepinwall
On the Tonight Show last night Ray Romano claimed that he shot his first ever sex scene for HBO's Vinyl. This isn't exactly true, Romano got busy on TNT's dearly departed Men of a Certain Age and spent a good amount of time talking about how shooting sex scenes made him uncomfortable on his press tours then. But HBO sex, with its penis socks and threesomes, is a step up from basic cable sex, which is also step up from sitcom sex. So we'll just let Ray Romano have his moment. Though, you have to wonder, which of his Vinyl co-stars has had "five or six" threesomes? (Bobby Cannavale. It was definitely Bobby Cannavale.) »
- Jackson McHenry
Before landing at the streaming giant, the revival of the 1970’s-’80s family sitcom had been in the works for quite some time, and Lear has spoken about developing the project over the past year.
Described as a reimagining of the classic, the modernized multi-camera comedy will center around a Cuban-American family. The heroine is a recently separated, former military mom navigating a new single life while raising her radical teenage daughter and socially adept tween son with the help of her old-school Cuban-born mom (played by Moreno) and a friends-without-benefits building manager named Schneider.
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
This is it, One Day at a Time fans: Netflix and Sony Pictures Television are reviving the classic Norman Lear sitcom for a new generation — but with a twist. The streaming giant has ordered 13 episodes of a new, Lear-produced One Day in which Bonnie Franklin’s iconic single-mom character, Ann Romano, will now be Cuban-American, rather than Italian. Men of a Certain Age co-creator Mike Royce, a sitcom veteran who worked on CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond, is partnering with How I Met Your Mother and iZombie writer/producer Gloria Calderon Kellett to write and executive-produce the new take. Instead of being an Indianapolis divorcée, the as-yet-uncast lead of the new show will now be a freshly separated ex-military servicewoman trying to raise her two kids with the assistance of her tradition-minded Cuban-born mother (Update: The grandmother role will be played by legendary actress Rita Moreno, Vulture has confirmed). And »
- Josef Adalian
8 items from 2016
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