Things are getting pretty dramatic behind the scenes of CBS’ No. 1 comedy.
Production on the season premiere of “Everybody Loves Raymond” was pushed back again Tuesday after Patricia Heaton called in sick for the second consecutive day. In addition, reps for Brad Garrett — who was written out of the first episode after he told CBS he won’t be coming back to work until the net begins discussing a pay hike — offered their first public comments about the increasingly tense situation.
Monday marked the start of production on the show’s eighth season, but with Heaton absent, producers opted to delay (Daily Variety, Aug. 12.)
In a bluntly worded statement released Tuesday morning by Garrett’s reps, the actor’s camp decried the Eye’s unwillingness to talk coin.
“CBS elected to make a one-year deal with Ray Romano making him the highest-paid sitcom actor ever,” the statement read. “Ray deserves every penny, plus the profits he will earn. At the same time, despite our repeated attempts to discuss Brad’s salary over the past seven months, CBS has refused to talk to us. Brad earns less than 10% of Ray’s salary and is the lowest paid member of a grossly underpaid supporting cast.
“All Brad wants is compensation commensurate with what other similarly situated actors have made in the past and are making today. Again, CBS will not talk to him. Instead, it is our understanding CBS simply instructed Phil Rosenthal to write Brad out of the series.”
Later, Garrett’s reps at Raw Talent, made clear that their client wouldn’t back down from his request for a salary hike.
“If we don’t come to a fair deal, we feel comfortable walking away,” the reps said.
CBS responded to the first statement by praising Garrett’s abilities as a thesp — and knocking his negotiating tactics.
“We have accommodated Brad’s request to negotiate new contracts twice over the past four years,” the net said. “The most recent agreement calls for Brad’s services through the eighth season of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.’ It’s unfortunate that he is not honoring his contract.”
Those sympathetic to the Eye p.o.v. note that Garrett has “a pattern of this kind of behavior” when it comes to salary demands, noting the actor nearly skipped a flight to Rome for the show’s two-part Italy episode a few years back. He took the flight and eventually came to work when the net gave him a boost.
Net insiders also believe CBS has been very supportive of Garrett’s thesp ambitions outside of “Raymond,” with the Eye casting Garrett as Jackie Gleason when Mark Addy fell out. CBS also launched an Emmy campaign on behalf of Garrett, something it rarely does for pics it doesn’t produce.
What’s more, industry insiders said CBS execs were floored when they first heard the sum Garrett was seeking, since it would have elevated him above all of his co-stars save for Romano, according to those insiders.
In light of recent actions, it now seems unlikely the net will want to move forward with a possible “Raymond” spinoff starring Garrett. Rosenthal is also said to be even more against a ninth season of the show.
As for Heaton, the actress isn’t directly seeking more coin — but her absence Monday and Tuesday, officially due to migraine headaches, seems to indicate she’s not happy with the situation on the show, either. (Actress saw a doctor Tuesday about her condition.)
Indeed, insiders familiar with the feelings of Heaton and co-stars Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle said all three thesps believe the current salary structure on the show is unfair.
For one thing, if “Raymond” doesn’t come back next year, the actors all stand to lose out on a huge sum.
“They made a deal thinking there’d be two years,” said one industry insider. “They feel burned.”
What’s more, Romano is the only “Raymond” thesp who shares in the show’s huge backend.
One potential solution to the Heaton, Roberts and Boyle unhappiness could simply be Romano, Rosenthal and the show’s multiple producers each agreeing to give up a tiny part of their backend profits (aka points). It’s believed reps for the thesps have asked CBS to take a leadership role in making that happen.
Supporting actors on most of TV’s top-rated comedies — including “Friends,” “Frasier” and “The King of Queens” — all share in their skein’s syndie profits.
CBS is set to let the “Raymond” cast know this morning whether they need to report to work or if the table read will be pushed again.