Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety‘s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Phil Rosenthal, the executive producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond” who now hosts his own food/travel show on Netflix, “Somebody Feed Phil.”
The show chronicles his culinary adventures in cities around the world, including Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Bangkok, Lisbon, as well as New Orleans. “I understand not everyone can afford to go overseas,” he says. But he says his goal is to “make it not scary to travel.”
“I just want to get you to travel,” he says. “Not just because I think the world would be nice if we all were exposed to each other’s experiences. But selfishly, it’s the best gift you give to yourself.”
It all started with an episode of “Raymond,” where the show traveled to Italy along with a very reluctant Ray Romano, who doesn’t like to leave home. But the actor fell in love with the experience. “He got it!” says Rosenthal. “The light bulb went off. And since then, I’ve wanted to do a show where I could turn other people on to how great it is to travel. And I’m using food and humor as the way to get you.”
Humor is a big part of the show (“Food is the great connector and laughs are the cement,” he says), but nothing is scripted (“We don’t fake one thing,” he says). But he acknowledges “the show is in fact part sitcom,” admitting that he’s become a character himself in his own series. “It’s funny when I’m uncomfortable,” he says. And he jokes he’s got the world’s worst poker face, so he can’t hide what he really thinks about what he’s eating.
Among the other recurring characters are Rosenthal’s parents, who make an appearance in the show as well as in an upcoming promo, where they try (hilariously) to find Netflix on their TV. “It’s a minute of true Jews and technology,” says Rosenthal with a laugh.
Rosenthal says he’s open to eating anything, but “I’m not crazy about bugs.” And although he ranges from high-end restaurants to street food, he says he prefers street food. “I’d rather have a great hot dog than a mediocre four-star meal,” he says.
You can listen to this week’s podcast here: