The long-running CBS comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond” focused on the daily misadventures of a Long Island, N.Y., sportswriter, and was based in large part on the families and experiences of star Ray Romano and creator/producer Phil Rosenthal.
But one hallmark of a hit comedy is relatability, and a beleaguered family man in Long Island can’t be all that different from a beleaguered family man in Russia, right?
That’s the idea behind a Sony executive’s decision to allow Russian television to develop its own version of “Raymond,” based on the characters and scripts from the original — the studio had already had a hit in Russia with a revamped “The Nanny” — and that decision has led to a new documentary called “Exporting Raymond,” which premiered at the Austin (Texas) Film Festival in late October and is slated for wide release in early 2011.
Rosenthal agreed to oversee the transition from “Everybody Loves Raymond” to “Voroniny,” which included casting and remodeling scripts to suit Russian culture, and brought along a camera crew to document the experience.
Taking a break from filming on his TNT dramedy “Men of a Certain Age,” which returns for a second season on Monday, Dec. 6, Romano tells Zap2it, “What do they do in Russia, they take an American sitcom, and they just do it verbatim.
“They translate it for language, and they translate it culturally, but they take the actual script, and they just cast it. Phil was sent over to consult, and so he took a documentary crew with them. It’s pretty fascinating.”
Asked if the Russian version of Raymond looks like him, Romano says, “No, not really. They’re all better-looking than us. The woman there who was in charge of the wardrobe was a fashionista, and she wanted it to be all about showing the latest fashion.
“Phil was trying to tell her, ‘You don’t understand, it’s about, “What would a housewife wear?”‘ There were a lot of struggles. It’s funny.
“Apparently it’s a hit there now. Like, there was one part, the family couldn’t live across the street, because that was unrealistic, that they each had a house. They had to live in the same apartment building.
“The fruit-of-the-month club, which was in our pilot, there’s no such thing as a fruit-of-the-month club. It’s like the box-of-water club or something-a-month club.”
Photo credit: Warner Bros.