Ray Romano Open to One More Season

Ray Romano | Friends Party | HBO Blocked Again | Cheryl Hines | Stars Get Punk'd | Stephen King

Ray Romano: Open to One More Season

There seems to be a difference of opinion over at "Everybody Loves Raymond." Is this the last season or not? No two people seem to have the same answer.

Let's cut to Ray Romano, the show's star. What does he think?

"This is supposed to be the last season," he says, "but we have to see what happens through the year. We have until January to decide."

He'd better tell co-star Patricia Heaton, who is looking for work on Broadway and developing her own sitcom. Ditto for Brad Garrett, who's doing an indie movie in the summer and working on his own show too. In fact, Garrett may even get a "Raymond" spin-off, with several of that show's writers pitching in to get it off the ground.

Meanwhile, Romano told me at HBO's big post-Emmy Awards party last night (see below) he would not be recording a second comedy album to follow up his self-titled one from last year.

"Another one? I don't think so," he said. "I don't have any more material. I'm not like Jerry Seinfeld where I'm going to invent all new stuff."

Romano is still the down-to-earth guy I met about five years ago. Back then he and Garrett came to the premiere of the Albert Brooks movie "The Muse" and told me it was the first time they'd ever been to such an event. Judging by their low-key presence last night, nothing has changed. Maybe that's why everyone indeed seems to love Ray — and Brad.

Jennifer, Courteney, Friends Party After Emmys

It's a good thing HBO threw a big Emmy party last night after the Governor's Ball. But I think CBS and NBC should get billed by the premium-cable channel since so many of their stars took advantage of HBO's largesse.

The cable studio took over Los Angeles's Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, converting the cavernous location into a glamorous hot spot for TV stars. And so they came, and partied, well into the wee hours on Monday morning: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, her husband David Arquette, Rob Lowe, Mike Myers and wife Robin Ruzan, and so on.

This gang of almost all NBC stars planted itself squarely in the middle of the proceedings and had such a good time carrying on they may be there now, for all I know.

The exception would be the Myers, who left in a bruising-black super-SUV wagon around 1 a.m.

Aniston, who brought her best friend and eerily clone-able lookalike, actress Andrea Bendewald ("Suddenly Susan"), was without husband Brad Pitt. (He's down in Mexico filming the endless "Troy.") Instead Arquette acted as Aniston's protector, keeping fans away and at one point telling a People reporter to go away because Aniston wasn't answering questions.

"Friends" actor David Schwimmer, may be the least affable of the group, came and went quickly, much the same way he acted on the Emmy red carpet earlier in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, all of CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond" cast was floating around the HBO gala, basking in the glow of winning Best Comedy and Best Supporting Actor (Brad Garrett) and Best Supporting Actress (Doris Roberts ).

If there were any actual HBO stars at their own party, they were few in number and left quickly. James Gandolfini and Sarah Jessica Parker (with Matthew Broderick) made appearances, but there was little to no sign of the "Six Feet Under" gang or even many Sopranos. Only winner Joe Pantoliano was about, with his gorgeous wife Nancy Sheppard, and Federico Castellucci (Furio) who may or may not even be with the show anymore.

At one point, such diverse actors as Alfre Woodard, Tom Welling and Charles S. Dutton zipped through the big tent.

Across the street at Morton's, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson held court at the 20th Century Fox TV party. Cowell fell into the most interesting conversation with eight-time Emmy legend Cloris Leachman, while Jackson honored his 55-pound weight loss by sticking to Morton's healthier offerings.

Emmys: West Coast Wins, Blocks HBO

It happened again, and this time it was no coincidence. Even though HBO got the most nominations ever for its series, the cable network was still unable to win Best Drama or Comedy series at the Emmys.

Indeed, the awards show was as usual a tribute mostly to mediocrity and conventional wisdom. Following that path, "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The West Wing" won the big trophies for the night.

The latter was a shock considering that three of the actors from "The Sopranos" picked up the main dramatic acting awards for HBO: Edie Falco, Gandolfini, and Pantoliano all came home winners. So why didn't the show?

Easy. HBO backlash, which seems a little like the Miramax backlash in the motion-picture world, was in effect last night. HBO now stands for the East Coast to the established television industry in Hollywood, which is West Coast.

Giving the "Sopranos" actors their dues was pretty much all the television academy could stomach. If they'd let "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City," "Six Feet Under" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" win — arguably the four best shows you can watch on the small screen — then the people who put formulaic programs together from Culver City to Studio City would have to pack it in.

The most gypped person of the night? Sarah Jessica Parker, whose portrayal of Carrie on "Sex and the City" is miles beyond anything else being done on a comedy. Nothing against Debra Messing, but "Will & Grace" is essentially the same show every week.

"Sex and the City" is more of a continuing saga, with each script a little gem. Maybe Parker will get her award next year, when "Sex" has wrapped production for good.

Larry David's TV Wife Kicks Ideas to the Curb

You'll be happy to know that Cheryl Hines doesn't think all of Larry David's ideas are so uproariously funny.

Hines plays Cheryl David, Larry's long-suffering wife on the HBO hit "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Hines, who says she was brought in just to play Larry's wife for a special, didn't think the show would become a hit series. She told me on Saturday night at Entertainment Weekly's first annual Emmy celebration pre-party that one idea in particular struck her as just wrong.

"Larry called me and said, 'What would you think if Larry's mother died and his father didn't tell him for several weeks?' I said, 'That's just not funny,'" said Hines, who has a healthy sense of humor and a definite appreciation for David's odd one. "I said, 'I don't think anyone wants to see that.' But of course, we did it, and it turned out to be very funny."

Hines was one of several TV celebs who turned up for the elegantly arranged EW party at a club in Hollywood called White Lotus. Peter Boyle of "Raymond" fame (to you, that is; some of us know him from his great movie work as "Joe" with Susan Sarandon) was there too, as were the Queer Guys from Bravo/NBC; Grant Shaud, the once-peripatetic Miles from "Murphy Brown"; and lots of young, good-looking types who were either on shows that were coming, gone or on networks you're never going to watch.

I did get to meet the most stunning and affable actress: Sofia Milos, star of the new indie film "Passionada." Milos, who is half-Italian, half Greek and was raised in Switzerland, is in the middle of shooting six episodes for "C.S.I. Miami," the "C.S.I." with David Caruso and a show I promise you I will never see. However, keep an eye out for this woman. If she's not a big star in the next year, something will be very very wrong.

Alicia Silverstone, EW's current cover girl, made an appearance to support her show, "Miss Match," as did the real-life person she's playing, a matchmaker named Samantha Daniels .

Also spotted was a currently employed soap-opera actor who wasn't doing much to cover up his real-life interests, and miscellaneous types such as David Alan Grier, the glamorous Aisha Tyler from "Friends," and our pals actor Evan Handler and producers/writer Amy Harris and Elissa Zuritzky from "Sex and the City" and Danny Masterson from "That '70s Show."

Ashton Kutcher Punks TV Stars

While most of the "EW" guests were oohing and aahing at a pretty impressive display of chocolate-covered fruit, there was a bit of subterfuge going on.

The ubiquitous Ashton Kutcher was stationed with his MTV "Punk'd" crew in a black tent right across the street from EW's red carpet. They'd gotten EW to agree to put a fake news crew on the press line, and then — in their "Candid Camera" style — gathered a number of interviews provoked by their intended idiotic questions.

The only problem with this is that the people Kutcher "punks" and their responses never seem like much of a stretch from the real thing itself. Continually trying to "fake out" Justin Timberlake can't be much harder than tempting a kitten with a rubber mouse.

Kutcher, for the record, did not make an appearance at the party was gone from the tent by 11 p.m. He had to get home in time to say good night to Demi , I guess.

Stephen King: Critic Doesn’t Take a Shining

I don’t particularly care one way or another about horror writer Stephen King — his books are enjoyable, commercial fare and he has the good sense to stay out of the spotlight. But not everyone has such ambivalent feelings. The Washington Post’s TV critic, Tom Shales, a most respected journalist, is up in arms over King getting a regular column in Entertainment Weekly.

“His first one was predictably about his damn self,” Shales writes in a letter to the editor in the Sept. 12 double issue of EW.

Calling King “superrich and overexposed,” Shales continues: “Why further enrich this hack when the spot, and money, could have gone to a bright young writer with something fresh to say?...I find him more repulsive than any horror story he ever wrote.”

Ironically, King’s column is absent from the back page of the same issue of EW, replaced by something called “Stupid Questions…this week with Michael J. Fox,” It lives up to its name. What I’d like to know is what happened to the old EW backpage, which was a flashback in entertainment history from that week to a date in the past? Considering how short people’s memories are, I always thought that feature was dead on.