Everybody loves Raymond ran on television for nine seasons. The successful comedy series will make a return this fall in a reunion show that is a pilot for a new series. Unfortunately, it has had to be re-cast as none of the main stars of the original are available.
Peter Boyle, who played Frank Barone, patriarch of the family, passed away in 2007. All of the other actors in the leading roles are busy and working on other series, on stage, or in movies.
Because of this, producers have hired the cast of Seinfeld to play the Raymond series roles. "They've all been out of work or had series that lasted only half a dozen episodes since Seinfeld went off the air, so they were all available and happy to step into a successful franchise," said pilot episode director Hilton Bean.
The part of Ray Barone, originally played by Ray Romano, will be played by Jerry Seinfeld. The trademark "what" will be replaced by "I did not know that" and "did you ever notice?"
His wife Debra, originally played by Patricia Heaton, will now be played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Even though her current show, "The New Adventures of Old Christine," is still on the air, it is critically acclaimed but an audience dud. CBS expects to cancel the show after the writer's strike ends.
Frank Barone will be played by Jason Alexander. This was originally played by the late Peter Boyle. Alexander was chosen for the part because he fits the three main requirements: bald, fat, and annoying.
Doris Roberts originally played Marie Barone, the mother of Ray and wife of Frank. Her part will be taken over by Estelle Harris, who played the mother of Jason Alexander's character in the original. When told of the casting choice, Alexander was upset. "How Freudian is this? My mother becomes my wife? Isn't this straight out of Oedipus or something? Once more, they're sticking it to the little guy!"
Brad Garret played Robert Barone, Ray's police officer brother in the original. This role goes to Michael Richards. Yes, Cosmo Kramer will get to carry a gun.
In the final years of the show, Robert married Amy, played by Monica Horan. Her part will be taken over by Wayne Knight, Newman in Seinfeld. Said Knight, "I have always wanted the opportunity to test my acting skills and play a woman. I wonder if anyone will notice that I have dyed and straightened my hair?"
Len Lesser is the only man to appear as a regular on both shows, appearing as Uncle Leo on Seinfeld and as Frank's friend Gavin in Everybody Loves Raymond. When invited back to a "meet the new cast party," he said "what's this? What's this?" Then, he left the building and has not been heard from since.
Producers do not expect the current writer's strike to affect the filming schedule as each series had several episodes already written when they were cancelled.
In the Pilot, Ray, Frank, and Robert return from a baseball game and go to their favorite restaurant, Nemo's, for pizza. Instead of finding Nemo behind the counter, they will instead find the Soup Nazi. He will refuse to serve Frank with the words "No slice for you!"
Comedy will ensue as Jason Alexander's character attempts to get served his favorite pizza.