Ray Romano on Saving the Day at the Turner Upfront

Tv_men_of_a_certain_age01 At the mazelike Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Variety cornered Peabody winners Ray Romano and Mike Royce backstage at today’s awards ceremony in Gotham to hear a little more about Romano’s impromptu stand-up set at the Turner Entertainment Networks upfront presentation last week, where the comic had to jump in and perform while techies tried to fix the A/V setup.

Did Turner give Romano a raise for saving the day? “They were very grateful,” Romano said. “Although they didn’t give us a renewal yet.”

“We could start a rumor, though,” said Royce. “Right!” Romano told his colleague. “We got renewed because of five minutes of old material.” Turning to the reporters, he asked, “You go to all of these things, though, right? Wasn’t it a little refreshing?”

The one thing Romano admitted had worried him about the performance was that he had a tough act to follow: just before Romano started his set, network topper Steve Koonin killed. “I didn’t want to go on because of that,” Romano said with a laugh.

“I kept waiting for him to run out of gas,” Royce agreed. “I used to be a warm-up comic; I couldn’t do that.”

Royce was voluble about his show’s new season. “I think the show’s gonna go to another level in the summer on June 1st at 10 o’clock on TNT,” he emphasized (Romano: “You don’t have to do that.”).

Romano, however, was very clear on the “Certain Age” policy for sweeps: “We don’t want to do any gimmicky stuff to get viewers. But one of us may be a vampire.”