Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal is telling reporters that the upcoming seventh season of Ray Romano's hit CBS series may be its last.
"I love Les [Moonves, president of CBS], and they've been incredibly supportive," Rosenthal tells Daily Variety. "But when it's over, it's over. You don't want to get repetitive, and I've never seen a show get better after seven seasons."
Whether Rosenthal's comments were truly the words of a guy who's getting tired--or just the usual Industry negotiating ploy--only time will tell. But next season will be a pivotal time for Raymond, as CBS' deal with the show expires in May, along with Romano's contract.
No word yet from Romano regarding Rosenthal's comments. But the executive producer says his star will obviously have a major hand in how long Everybody Loves Raymond sticks around. A decision, he says, could come by this winter.
"You mine for gold as long as you can, but when we're out of stories, the show is over," Rosenthal said. But, he joked, "If I can't think of anything, I can go home to my wife and pick a fight. Then I have another few episodes."
CBS certainly wouldn't mind loving Raymond a little longer: The series remains one of the top-rated shows on television, averaging 18.7 million viewers last season and serving as the anchor for CBS' Monday night comedy lineup. Last week, the show nabbed 11 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series and acting nods for Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts.
Losing the show would be the equivalent of NBC losing Friends--which is happening at the end of next season.
If he does decide to call it quits next year, Romano always has his burgeoning big-screen career to keep himself busy. Following his voice work in Fox's hit Ice Age, New Line Cinema has enlisted the funnyguy to star in the comedy Action Abramowitz, about an accountant who gets bonked on the head and begins to believe he's an action hero.