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[05/12/03 - 12:00 AM]
'Raymond' to Stay at Least One More Season at Cbs
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) - Ray Ramano is set to become TV's highest-paid actor next season as the comedian has signed on to stick with CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond" for one more season. Co-creator Phil Rosenthal will also remain on board for the series' eighth season.

The news comes as CBS and producers HBO Independent Prods. and Worldwide Pants ironed out a new licensing deal over the weekend to keep the series through its ninth season. CBS will pay approximately $5-6 million per episode for the comedy, a noticeable growth from its current license fee of less than $3 million per episode. The ninth season however is not guaranteed as Rosenthal and Romano's involvement would need to be secured to continue with the series. All of the other actors on the series however have been inked through the ninth season.

The current one-year deal will pay Romano $1.8-2.0 million for each of the comedy's 22 episodes next season, surpassing Kelsey Grammer's pervious record of $1.6 million per episode for "Frasier." In total, Romano is expected to pull in between $40 and $44 million for his services. Previously, Romano had been paid $800,000 per episode.

To date this season "Everybody Loves Raymond" has averaged more than 18 million viewers and is TV's second most watched comedy behind NBC's "Friends" (21 million).





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· EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
· FRASIER (NBC)
· FRIENDS (NBC)





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