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Raymond Cast Not Quite So Lovable

8/24/2003 08:00:00 PM Eastern

A lot of people who love Raymond have issues. Although only Brad Garrett is refusing to report to work on the set of Everybody Loves Raymond as he pushes CBS to renegotiate his contract, other Raymond co-stars aren't happy with their salaries either, apparently.

Patricia Heaton called in sick with migraine headaches during the first week of production, and Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle called in sick last Monday. All three, who share the same attorney, were back at work last Tuesday, while Garrett remained out.

Sources say that, although the stars probably were sick, the absences also should be taken as a "shot across the bow" to the network and the show's producers. But series star Ray Romano on Entertainment Tonight last week indicated that he thinks cast differences and paycheck issues can be settled with Garrett and the others.

Garrett, who plays Raymond's brother, opened negotiations in July. In preparation for his sit-out, the show's writers wrote him out of the first episode.

The cast's unhappiness stems from the massive pay raise that Romano, who portrays Ray Barone, received in May. It boosted his salary to an estimated $1.8 million an episode, or $40 million annually, making him the highest-paid star on television.

The rest of the Raymond cast gets paid much less. Garrett earns $160,000 an episode, significantly less than Heaton, who plays Romano's wife. Moreover, unlike Romano and series creator and executive producer Phil Rosenthal, none of the cast members share in the series' lucrative syndication backend. They're also worried: Their contracts extend through the 2004-05 season, but Romano and Rosenthal have now publicly talked about ending the series after this season. If that happens, the cast would miss out on a year's salary.

Garrett has renegotiated his contract with CBS twice before, using similar tactics, which hasn't endeared him to the network. Sources say Garrett's behavior is likely jeopardizing his chances to appear in a Raymond spin-off that CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves said in July that the network is considering.

Season-to-date, Raymond is the eighth-most-popular prime time show in viewers. This summer, in repeats, the show is ranked ninth among adults 18-49.

Raymond has been airing in syndication since fall 2001, earning license fees of around $130 million a year. Romano reportedly has an 8% interest in the show's syndication revenues and Rosenthal 14%. Viacom-owned CBS has about a one-third interest, and David Letterman's Worldwide Pants and HBO Independent Productions, which produce the show, split the rest. The show is distributed by King World, also owned by Viacom, which sells 90 seconds of national ad time in each episode. CBS had no comment, and Garrett's agency, Raw Talent, did not return phone calls.

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