"Raymond" TV creator looks for some love in Russia

Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:58pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- or so the show's creator had reason to think before he went to Moscow to help adapt a Russian remake of his hit TV comedy.

But when he got there, Phil Rosenthal quickly discovered that the Russians didn't share his taste for the absurdity of everyday family life, wouldn't pay for a studio audience and wanted to dress Raymond's stay-at-home wife in stilettos.

Worse still, Russian TV writers had no trouble telling Rosenthal that one of America's most beloved sitcoms was not really funny at all.

Rosenthal recounts the hilarity and the horror in "Exporting Raymond," which opens in U.S. movies theaters on Friday. The documentary marks his first foray into feature filmmaking.

"'Everybody Loves Raymond' is shown dubbed or subtitled in 148 countries, so I was led to believe it would go a little more smoothly than it did in Russia," Rosenthal told Reuters in a recent interview. "I was led to believe that we did have something that was possibly universal."

Starring standup comedian Ray Romano as easygoing sports columnist Raymond Barone and Patricia Heaton as his exasperated wife Debra, "Everybody Loves Raymond" was loosely based on Rosenthal's own family life. Its nine-year run in primetime ended in 2005, but the show lives on in syndication.

Rosenthal was dispatched to Moscow in 2008 to help oversee a Russian remake called "Everybody Loves Kostya." Things got off to an ominous start when he was told he needed kidnap and ransom insurance.

But by far his biggest concern was persuading an ever-changing cast of Russian producers, directors, writers and actors to understand the humor in his show about multi-generational family life.   Continued...