Almost Everybody Ill on "Raymond"

by Bridget Byrne
Aug 19, 2003, 4:30 PM PT

Looks like Everybody Loves Raymond's in dire need of a crossover visit to ER.

Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle were back at work Tuesday after calling in sick Monday, the first day of rehearsals for the CBS show's fall season.

The veteran costars, who play Raymond Barone's pesky in-laws, both say they can produce doctors' notes if necessary. Their absence came on the heels of Patricia Heaton's timeout last week, reportedly due to a monster headache, which delayed the start of production for the eighth season. All this sudden illness immediately led to speculation that all was not well behind the scenes.

Industry pundits figured the maladies had more to do with money ills than actual medical problems, especially since it seems everybody on Ray Romano's show is angling for a bigger paycheck.

Earlier this year, Romano signed a deal for around $50 million, making him the highest-paid actor on TV.

That made Brad Garrett feel poorly. The Emmy-winning actor, who plays Raymond's big lug of a brother, Robert, announced he isn't coming to work until he's paid more than the roughly $160,000 per episode he's currently earning--lowest among all the show's ensemble. His holdout has led producers to write him out of the season's first episode.

But Garrett isn't alone. Boyle, Roberts and Heaton have also made it clear they want to be compensated to keep loving Raymond, CBS' top-rated sitcom.

So tongues started wagging when Heaton, who plays Raymond's bossy wife, claimed she was suffering a migraine.

On Monday, Heaton did show up for a table reading, but Roberts and Boyle--who just happen to be represented by the same attorney as Heaton--didn't. Daily Variety cited "production insiders" saying the mood on the set Monday was tense but businesslike.

But there is no conspiracy, according to the actors' camps.

Roberts had already told producers she hurt her knee during a photo shoot for Glamour magazine and will need extensive physical therapy. Her personal publicist, Dale Olson, confirmed that. "I was there when it happened," he said, describing how a pose "in a tree" proved "awkward" for the 71-year-old actress and he heard something "snap." Olson declined to elaborate.

Boyle, meanwhile, was feeling peachy Tuesday. "I spoke to him. He was raring to go," the actor's rep said. Asked about the illness, which the Hollywood Reporter blamed on an allergic reaction to prescription medicine, Boyle's flack said, "He just wasn't feeling well yesterday--it may have been a cold, it may have been an allergic reaction--he's back now."

Heaton, Roberts and Boyle are particularly unhappy that this season may be the last, because their contracts are back-loaded, meaning their substantial raises won't kick in unless the series is extended.

At the Television Critics Association press tour last month, network chairman Les Moonves said although star Romano and producer Phil Rosenthal have stated they'd like to end the show this season, "the rest of the cast is dying to come back."

Or at least sometimes feeling a little sick about it. But for now apparently things are a bit better, and Thursday's taping before a live audience at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank is currently on schedule.
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