Ray Romano Was Gaslit into Accepting the Name ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’

How about a sitcom called ‘Um, Raymond’?
Ray Romano Was Gaslit into Accepting the Name ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’

Ray Romano loved just about everything about his proposed sitcom — except the stupid title, Everybody Loves Raymond. That expression, “everybody loves Raymond,” actually came from a sarcastic comment in Romano’s real life, he told Rich Eisen this week on The Rich Eisen Show. His real-life brother was a New York City cop, who would grouse that when he went to work, everybody shot at him. But when his stand-up comic brother went to work? Well, everybody loves Raymond.

Hilarious, said Romano’s writing partner Phil Rosenthal, who insisted on putting the funny story into the script. It could even be the title! “No, no, no,” was Romano’s response. It will just be a working title, Rosenthal insisted. “We’ll change it!” 

Of course, the title stuck. Romano continued his fight to change it to something else, but by the time they’d made a pilot, CBS was sold on the name. Neither side could agree, so CBS offered a compromise: If the sitcom became a top-ten show, the network would allow Romano to change the name. Deal? Deal.

Good news for Romano — the show was a hit! So he went to CBS to make good on the agreement. Only one problem: The show is so popular now, CBS argued, it couldn’t possibly change the name. Erg!

What was Romano's problem with the name in the first place? “You’re a neurotic, insecure comedian,” he said. “You don’t want to say everybody loves you. You know it’s going to be ridiculed. You know they’re going to do a play (on the title).” To this day, Romano claims, if there’s something in his career that’s not going well, he can count on a headline doing a take on, “Well, not everybody loves Raymond.”

So many people to blame. There’s CBS, which backed out on its promise. There’s Rosenthal, who said they’d change the title later. But Romano can also point the finger at his manager, who insisted, “You’ve got to have your name in the title!” That was certainly in vogue for stand-up-fronted sitcoms at the time: Seinfeld, Roseanne, The Drew Carey Show. 

Fine, whatever. If that’s how it had to be, Romano argued, he’d come up with some better alternatives. His manager still has the piece of paper with Romano’s ideas, which include such gems as That Raymond Guy, Raymond’s Tree, and Um, Raymond.

CBS took a look at the list and told Romano that it would test the names. And then — surprise! — the network came back with the news that Everybody Loves Raymond scored the best. (Did the test really happen? We’re guessing, um, no.) Romano continued to push back. If dumb test audiences like it, that’s why the title needed to change! Go the other way! Nope. Everybody Loves Raymond it was.

Looking back, Romano acknowledges that maybe it was all for the best. Names like Um, Raymond? He shakes his head. “They were horrible.”

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