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'Raymond' Co-Star to Return to the Set

An agreement giving Brad Garrett a raise and a slice of the hit CBS comedy's back-end profit settles a dispute.

August 27, 2003|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

Peace, if not love, has been restored to the set of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Brad Garrett, a co-star on television's second-highest-rated sitcom, ended a contract dispute Tuesday and is expected to report for work today, a CBS network spokesman said. Garrett has been absent since the show began filming its eighth season last week. The first episode is scheduled to air Sept. 22.

An Emmy Award winner for his portrayal of the title character's underdog brother, Robert, Garrett is receiving a salary increase plus a percentage of the show's back-end profit, insiders said. Details of his new contract weren't disclosed. Representatives for Garrett could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The actor had been the lowest-paid co-star of the show, earning $166,000 an episode, or about $4 million for the season.

The settlement with CBS comes two days after the show's producers and its star, Ray Romano -- who reportedly is earning a TV record of $1.5 million an episode, or more than $40 million, for the upcoming season -- agreed to share some of their back-end profit with Garrett, as well as with co-stars Patricia Heaton, Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle.

That profit, which comes from off-network sales of the show's reruns, is expected to be in the neighborhood of $1 billion in the coming years. Even after deals with the other co-stars were completed, Garrett continued his negotiations with CBS.

"Everybody Loves Raymond" is produced by HBO Productions and David Letterman's Worldwide Pants Inc. CBS is owned by Viacom Inc.

The show's creator and executive producer, Phil Rosenthal, quipped in a statement: "We had a big contract negotiation. Now it feels like a hit show."

A statement by Romano was more succinct: "Brad was gone?"

"Raymond," which trails only NBC's "Friends" in the ratings among sitcoms, is in production on the season's second episode. Producers wrote Garrett's character out of the season opener after he told them in July he would not return unless he was given a pay increase. His character was barely included in the installment now filming.

The comedy has been clouded by uncertainty since production started because of Garrett's standoff and the reported illnesses of the other three co-stars, all of whom missed at least one day of work.

The absences caused concern at CBS, which is already considering life after "Raymond."

Romano and executive producer Rosenthal have said they intended to leave the series after this season. One of the network's contingency plans has been a spinoff series featuring the supporting cast.

Pay disputes have become common on several successful TV series. Rob Lowe left NBC's "The West Wing" last season after failing to win the raise he sought.

In another such tiff, Jane Kaczmarek of Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle" received a pay increase after being absent from the set several days last year. And James Gandolfini, star of HBO's "The Sopranos," staged a highly publicized standoff with the cable network after demanding more money, which he eventually received.

Reuters was used in compiling this report.

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