"Write very, very specifically and true to what you experienced. That's the way to hit everyone. All our lives deal in specifics, so even if your specific isn't my specific you understand the specific-ness itself, right? You understand that little thing that gets under the skin and gets the mother mad. You get it. You get it. This is the best thing I learned. This is what I've tried to inform in the writing - we're trying to not hit everyone, we're just trying to hit what's true and real to us. And that's where the universality is."
About This Interview
In his nearly three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Phil Rosenthal talks of his years growing up as a TV addict, and his fondness in particular for classic sitcoms such as The Honeymooners. He discusses the time he saw Ten From Your Show of Shows, a feature film compilation from Sid Caesar's popular variety show, which solidified his interest in show business. He describes his early years as an actor and writer in New York, and his transition to staff writing for Los Angeles based sitcoms A Family for Joe, Baby Talk, and Down the Shore. Rosenthal recounts writing and producing for the then already-successful series Coach, and details creating the popular sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. He outlines meetings with executives, discussions with Ray Romano, and the melding of his and Romano's own family backgrounds to create the show's characters and storylines. He talks about casting the series, the characters' relationships, and memorable episodes. Additionally, he shares the formula for writing a well-constructed sitcom episode and comments on the importance of writing from one's own experiences. Rosenthal also describes creating a television show for Peter O'Toole (which was not picked up), writing for President Bill Clinton, and acting in James L. Brooks' feature film Spanglish. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on April 13, 2005.