CBS Allegedly Wanted 'Hotter' Actress to Play Wife on 'Everybody Loves Raymond' , Series Creator Says

Patricia Heaton played titular character Ray Barone's wife, Debra Barone, on the show

Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton star in the series finale of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, Monday, May 16
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS Photo Archive/Getty

CBS originally had a different idea about who should play Ray Romano's wife on Everybody Loves Raymond, according to the show's creator.

Though Patricia Heaton played titular character Ray Barone's wife, Debra Barone, on the series, creator Phil Rosenthal claimed that "CBS wanted someone hotter to play Debra."

"I almost quit the show over it," Rosenthal, 61, told Yahoo Entertainment.

Prior to Heaton's casting, Rosenthal met with an unnamed actress that CBS "insisted" get the part. But he didn't think she was right for Debra.

"I thought she was wrong, but I met with her and she was a very pleasant, very nice person. She wasn't going to read for the role but during the meeting, I convinced her to read a little bit with me," he said. "And she was 10 times worse for the part than I thought she would be!"

When Rosenthal later met with network executives, he entered with three picks in mind that included CBS' first choice. Even though then-CEO Les Moonves asked about the network's preferred option, Rosenthal was able to convince them to continue searching for the right actress.

"I said, 'I love her and I've loved everything she's been in. I think she's terrific and beautiful, but then she read for me and I have to tell you it's just not what I wrote. I just don't see them as a couple. I think she could do it, but I also think that maybe we could do better,'" he recalled. "[Les] said, 'Well, it's just an idea.' In other words, he let me slide and we agreed to keep looking!"

"Two weeks later, Patty walked in and within five minutes she had the part. When it's right, it's right, and you know it immediately," he added.

PEOPLE has reached out to CBS for comment.

Patricia Heaton attends the 2019 CBS Upfront at The Plaza on May 15, 2019 in New York City.
Nicholas Hunt/Getty

Everybody Loves Raymond ran for nine seasons on CBS between 1996 to 2005. The series followed Long Island-based sports columnist Ray Barone and the everyday antics of his Italian-American family.

Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle, Monica Horan, Madylin Sweeten and twins Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten were also in the cast.

Despite the beloved show's popularity, Romano previously shut down the idea of an Everybody Loves Raymond revival.

"[Phil Rosenthal and I] both agree. The parents are gone. Both parents are gone and they were so the show," Romano, 63, told UPI in 2018, referencing the deaths of Roberts in 2016 and Boyle in 2006.

Romano also doesn't think a revival with Ray and Debra replacing Frank (Boyle) and Marie's (Roberts) former meddling parents roles would work. "It's so not the show then. We just don't believe it would do the show justice or be good enough to do it," he continued. "Not only that but one of the kids [Sawyer Sweeten] is gone also. So, I never say never, but I think it's 'no.'"

Though Rosenthal has tried to pitch a reunion special with all living cast members, he hasn't had much success in doing so.

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"I've pitched to now a couple of different places. We can do a reunion special. We can tell stories of the things that have happened to us at home, and then show a clip of the Raymond episode, and I think it will be entertaining and funny and you'll get a chance to catch up with the cast as they are now," he recently said on SiriusXM's Pop Culture Spotlight with Jessica Shaw.

"And it seemed to work for Friends and, uh, no takers. Not yet," he continued. "Maybe someone will hear this and say, 'Hey, this seems like a no-brainer.' I think people like the show, I think they would like to see the cast together. Again, I think they would like to revisit some of the highlights and outtakes from the show."

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