Read an excerpt below, and don’t miss Dr. Jon LaPook’s interview with Phil Rosenthal and Ray Romano on “CBS Sunday Morning” May 8!
One person’s life I wanted to change through travel was my good friend Ray Romano. After the premiere season of .Everybody Loves Raymond, I asked Ray Romano where he was headed. He replied, “We always visit the Jersey Shore.” He said that it was wonderful, but had ever been to Europe. “Nah.” When I inquired why he didn’t, he replied, “I don’t really care about other cultures.” It was hard for me to understand why someone would feel this way. It’s not even Italy. Ray was from Italy. I knew instantly it was a story I wanted to tell on Raymond, do an episode set in Italy and send his character, Ray Barone, over there, this guy who doesn’t want to travel. Roberto Benigni would send him back to Italy as Roberto Barone, me as someone who has been changed by travel, including the delicious food and the beautiful people of Italy.
After much convincing Raymond, we flew him to Rome. We also filmed in Anguillara Sabazia, a small town on the Lago di Bracciano. Ray, Ray, and I ate together with 30 members of our cast and crew at the huge Trastevere table. This is the former Jewish ghetto of Rome. Ray noticed a gelato shop in the corner and suggested that we get gelato afterwards. He saw a pizza joint as he was enjoying his second dessert. He then saw another gelato shop and declared, “Coconut and chocolate is the best combination.” We should all try it here. It was amazing to see what actually happened to Ray, the person I had written about. It was almost as if I had experienced the thrills of traveling for the first-time with my friend. It was actually that moment I thought, “If only this could be done for others.” “
So after Raymond ended, and many futile attempts at another sitcom, my dream became a reality. You know what? It was not what anyone wanted. Why are you doing it? “Keep it to sitcoms,” is what I’d hear from my agents, my parents and even my parents. It took me years to get there. All the knowledge I had about telling stories was to be used to support everything that I love in my life, including family, friends, food, travel, laughter, and good company.
Finally, PBS saw clips of travel videos I made and loved them and offered me a meeting. This is how I presented the show. I stated that I was exactly like Anthony Bourdain if he were afraid of all things. “
After the meeting, I called Richard. He told me that PBS had six episodes where I’d try to convince you to travel, showing you some of the most amazing places to eat in the world. His response was, “Really?” He said, “Really? The Lucky Bastard ?” He was already working as a television producer and I asked him to join me in producing this show. We’ll be calling our production company Lucky Bastards. Zero Point Zero, the production company responsible for Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows joined us and our show was I’ll Have what Phil’s Having .
We brought our parents to each episode. They have been a wonderful source of humor and support, as well as being supportive. You can see their debut in my 2011 documentary about my trip to Russia to try to help them turn our sitcom into Everybody Loves Kostya. This is called Exporting Raymond HTML1. What you see in those video calls is actually how my family lives. These calls to my family are like a postcard sent from a place you travel. We realized that they are comic geniuses when it comes to taking photos. My mother was an absolute natural, and she is absolutely hilarious. She didn’t want to appear on television, unlike her father, but she enjoyed it when people recognized her. That was what I loved. Dad was a great joker. When he was young, he had performed stand-up a few times. I was always amazed by his ability to control the stage. He did sometimes get nervous when he went up on stage. Monica told me, after he had collected a number of jokes, that he would use the Internet to look up Jewish jokes before I called. To make the joke appear to everyone as though he remembered it, he wanted to be sure that he knew the right way to tell it. My mom and my dad were the dynamic on IHWPH and on four of our seasons of Netflix’s Somebody feed ,. The two of them are just as hilarious in this series as were the actors portraying their characters in Raymond was on the sitcom. These two were not only the most memorable part of the show but also one of the greatest parts of my entire life. Like everything I have been able to do, this book is dedicated to Max and Helen Rosenthal.
It is also dedicated to my other family members: Ben and Monica, Richard, Lily and Monica’s families, Monica and Monica’s extended family. This includes our crew, production staff and all the friends and chefs we have made.
Excerpted from “Somebody Feed Phil the Book.” Copyright (c) 2022, Phil Rosenthal. This reproduction is permitted by Simon Element. Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.
For more info:
- “Somebody Feed Phil the Book: Untold Stories, Behind-the-Scenes Photos and Favorite Recipes” by Phil Rosenthal and Jenn Garbee (Simon & Schuster), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio Format, available for pre-order, October 2022, via Amazon and Indiebound
- “Somebody Feed Phil,” Season 5 debuts May 25 on Netflix
- Somebody Feed the People
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