Interview with Ray Romano of "Men of a Certain Age" on TNT - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Ray Romano

Interview with Ray Romano of "Men of a Certain Age" on TNT 11/2/10

It was great to talk to Ray Romano. He seems like such a nice guy, just like he plays on TV. Talking to him was very easy, just like talking to any guy on the phone!  And yet he's brilliant, as an actor, a writer, and a comedian. I don't think he has an intimidating bone in his body.

I really enjoyed talking with him, even though I only got to ask one question. He is probably the biggest star I've ever gotten to speak with. There have been many whose calls I signed into but I didn't actually get to speak with them since there were so many callers. He's the first huge star that I actually got to speak to. Yay!!

Moderator: Kristina Stafford
November 2, 2010 12:40 pm CT

Operator: Good day and welcome to the Turner Entertainment's Men of a Certain Age conference call with Ray Romano. Today's conference is being recorded.

At this time, I'd like to turn the call over to Kristina Stafford. Please go ahead.

Kristina Stafford: Good afternoon and thank you so much for joining the Ray Romano Men of a Certain Age conference call.

Men of a Certain Age returns for its second season on Monday, December 6, at 10:00, 9:00 Central, on TNT. The conference call is now open for questions. Please press star 1 to ask a question. Thank you.

And once again, that is star 1 for your question. And we do ask that you limit yourself to one question today. And if you are on a speakerphone, please be sure your line is not muted, so your signal reaches us.

We'll go first to Suzanne Lanoue of the TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi, nice to talk to you today.

Ray Romano: Hi, how are you?

Suzanne Lanoue: Good. I love your show, it's really great.

Ray Romano: Thank you.

Suzanne Lanoue: My favorite shows, yours and Dexter.

Ray Romano: Oh, nice. Yes, well they're the same.

Suzanne Lanoue: Strange company.

Ray Romano: The same theme, really, underneath it all.

Suzanne Lanoue: Yes, it's a great show. I was wondering what you gave you the idea that - to come up with the show.

Ray Romano: Well the idea - I didn't come up with the idea.

Suzanne Lanoue: I'm sorry.

Ray Romano: The idea - no, I mean that - by that I mean, I was kind of living the idea. Myself and Mike Royce were both coming off of Raymond, the show Raymond, and about four months after it ended we had lunch together and we you know, knew we wanted to do something together.

And we just talking, what did we want write about. What do want to - what do we know how to write about. And we both kind of were going through the same thing, this identify search. You know, here we are you know, late 40s, just finished a successful thing but what's next. What does it mean, you know, existentially we were kind of flipping around.

And you know you get to that age and you wonder what are you going to be passionate again? Is anything going drive you, or did you do anything - everything you wanted? So that's kind of where we were, all at different levels. But we still there, you know, and we said, "Let's just write about that."

Suzanne Lanoue: Well as a woman of a certain age, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Ray Romano: All right, thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

Jamie Steinberg: It's a pleasure to speak with you.

Ray Romano: Thank you, you too.

Jamie Steinberg: What keeps challenging you about this particular role?

Ray Romano: What keeps what?

Jamie Steinberg: Challenging you about the role.

Ray Romano: Well, I mean it's a drama for one thing. It's challenging to not have to resort to the old comedic crutches that I did you know, not crutches, but just the go-to you know comedic kind of way that you do a sitcom and the way you deliver lines. And what's good about this is trying to get rid of all that and do it real.

Are you there? I heard a click.

Jamie Steinberg: Yes, yes.

Ray Romano: Okay. Sometimes people just hang up in the middle of me when I'm answering. But anyway, yes, even when we do comedic scenes it's a challenge.

You know, I have to, you know, I spent nine years on Raymond, which I loved doing and I'm proud of, but it was you know, the genre it just is what it is in that's it's real, but it's a little bit pseudo-real. It's kind of a little bit broader than real life, a little bit tweaked.

And when I do this show I want to make sure I don't go there. I want this character to be real and organic and still be funny and still be dramatic. So that’s kind of challenging.

I mean I'm finding it fun to do and also to be subtle. Because you know how you're doing film and you don't need to be big, you don't need to be (moped) to the, you know, when you do a sitcom you're - it's like a play. You have to play out to the people. In this, people come into you. If that makes any sense.

Jamie Steinberg: Great. Thank you so much.

Ray Romano: All right, thanks.

Operator: We'll go next to Jay Jacobs with

Jay Jacobs: Hi Raymond. Nice to talk to you.

Ray Romano: Hey, how are you buddy?

Jay Jacobs: Good. Listen, all three of you guys sort of played, sort of like iconic TV roles previously. I noticed your show - how involved were you in the casting of Andre and Scott?

And when did you know that you had the right mix, and that people aren't going to be thinking about, like Raymond or Homicide or Quantum Leap, they'll be thinking about you guys as normal guys in their 40s just getting together?

Ray Romano: Well I'm in - I was involved in every step of the way in casting myself and Mike Royce. You know, I think the biggest thing for me was casting Andre as this character because we didn't see - he never entered our mind.

We pictured kind of a beaten down, frumpy middle-aged man who's underneath his father's shadow, and he's a little bit unsure of himself. And somebody pitched Andre to us. And at first we didn't want to meet him and - because we thought of Homicide, and we thought this guy commands this presence and he walks in a room and he's sure of himself.

So we met him. And you know, he was so game to play this and not that this mattered, but he wasn't physically the same way he was on Homicide. He - middle-age had caught up to him a little bit in that aspect - in that respect.

But - and you know, he had never done comedy and not that we do - not that we're a comedy, but we - there's comedy in the show. And he was open to do it. And you know, we just thought, "Geez, he's such a great actor, let's just go with the best actor." And that was the one, you know, the chemistry that I was worried about. And I thought it was there immediately.

Like in the pilot when we do the - when we're in the car and I'm talking losing two pounds of pee - losing two pounds by peeing last night, and the way he responds to me. I just, you know, all my worries went away. I just thought this guy is - he is this character, yeah.

Jay Jacobs: Great

Ray Romano: And Scott was just great right off the bat, I mean I just saw Scott was - had this naturalness to him. So he came in and read. He was another guy who really didn't really think of, then when he came in and read we saw that yeah, he had this way of just - this natural flow with this character.

Jay Jacobs: Good.

Ray Romano: Good. Are we done. Did I...

Jay Jacobs: I would say yes.

Ray Romano: All right, thanks.

Operator: We'll go next to Gerri Miller with

Gerri Miller: Hi Ray, how are you?

Ray Romano: Good, good. How you doing?

Gerri Miller: MNN is a green site so I wanted to know, if anything, is done on the production to reduce its carbon footprint. Are there any things that are done like as far as like waste reduction or reusing-recycling bins?

Just like that, are you in like - because you were involved as a producer, so you know, you were in some way responsible. Did anything like that happen?

Ray Romano: Yes. On the set, I'm trying to think, where - what's going on on the set. I know that in our offices, because I'm in my office everyday...

Gerri Miller: Right.

Ray Romano: - somebody came - we've supplied every office with co-mingle recycling bins.

Gerri Miller: Yes.

Ray Romano: You know, for our waste and everything. So yes, we are very green conscious and we all drive Priuses, myself and Mike Royce. And I get paid in apple seeds. But no, we're doing our duty, we are very environmentally conscious.

Gerri Miller: Excellent.

Ray Romano: You know, and to the best of our ability, we're pitching in.

Gerri Miller: Okay. Excellent.

Ray Romano: Thank you.

Gerri Miller: Okay, thank you.

Ray Romano: Bye.

Operator: We will go next Tom Lewis with the LAist. Please go ahead.

Tom Lewis: Hello Mr. Romano...

Ray Romano: Hey.

Tom Lewis: ...thank you for answering our questions today.

Ray Romano: How are you?

Tom Lewis: I'm doing great. I had a question about what you're working process with Mike Royce is like on this show, and how that might have changed from when you where working on Raymond together.

Ray Romano: Well on Raymond, he was one of the writers on the staff. You know, Phil Rosenthal kind of ran the writer's room and I was in there whenever I wasn't on stage. And this, it's just me and him and you know, it's kind of new for both of us running the show. And not only that, it's a one-hour and it's a single camera.

So what we learned on Raymond though was -- what made Raymond flow so smoothly I guess compared to other sitcoms or from what I hear -- is we started the season with scripts written, with about 12 scripts fully written already. You know, Phil made sure that we were - had that going, and that made all the difference.

And so that's kind of what we tried to do here, Mike and I. We started writing. We had a staff of only five writers, and we met in like February to start filming in August, or maybe March.

We met in March, and we weren't going to start filming till August. So we just you know, we beat out stories the room, and we got scripts written before we started filming. And it's still a crazy amount of work but it seems to be manageable now.

Tom Lewis: Did you - where there things you learned last season in this process with Mike that you adapted to for this season?

Ray Romano: Well, I mean, it worked last year, where we wanted to make sure we could do that again, and we only had 10 episodes last year. This year we went to 12 episodes. And we were kind of - we were kind of sure we could handle it.

And it's caught up to us a little bit now, because now we're filming now and we’re in our tenth episode and we still have to write the finale. And it's kind of catching up with us.

So if anything I mean we just - we're just learning that it pays to be ahead of the game as far - nothing you know, when you've got to rush the creativity process it never really comes out as good as you want it. So I mean if anything, we're just learning to prepare.

You know, it's catching up with us a little bit, but we're going to make it. You know, if we had to do a 16 episode season right now, things - we would be in trouble -- which is why we're not going to.

Tom Lewis: Well thanks so much for answering my questions.

Ray Romano: All right, thanks.

Operator: And that does conclude our Q&A session. At this time I'll turn the call back over to Kristina Stafford for any additional or closing remarks.

Ray Romano: Okay, thanks.

Kristina Stafford: Thank you for participating in today's conference call. As a reminder Men of a Certain Age returns for its second season on Monday, December 6 at 10:00, 9:00 Central, on TNT.

Thank you, Ray. And thank you all for participating.

Ray Romano: All right. Thank you, bye-bye.

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