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Attention Everybody Who Loves Raymond

Jonathan Buss ’94 recently finished producing and directing The Last Laugh, a one-hour special documenting the finale of Everybody Loves Raymond. The special aired Monday, May 16, immediately before the series finale on CBS. Included here are excerpts of an e-mail he sent to friends and family, and now visitors to our Web site, telling them about the project.

It all started back last August, when the producers of Everybody Loves Raymond approached us about doing a retrospective documentary about the final season of their show. They were interested in doing something a little more in-depth than the typical end-of-series clip show. Typically, with other shows that have been on as long as they have (nine years), many of the crew, writers, producers, and even the creators move on to other jobs that may pay more or seem bigger and better. Not so with the "Raymond" people. Most of the crew, writers, and even the creator turned down bigger and better jobs and paychecks elsewhere, because the environment they created was less like work and more like family, and that's the behind-the-scenes they wanted to show the fans.

We started shooting in the fall - a day here, a day there, but CBS wasn't sure they wanted to pay for a special, so we stopped shooting, and waited for the go ahead. Months passed by, and soon Christmas was upon us. They only had three episodes to shoot after the holidays, so it looked like the show was not going to happen. I told CBS that if we didn't start right then, we would never get the footage we wanted and we weren't going to do the show. The day before Christmas, I got the "call" and we were "a go." So, in January, we began to film the final four weeks of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Since the show had such a close-knit cast and crew, my crew and I stood out like a sore thumb. After the first week, they welcomed me into their "family," and it was pretty amazing witnessing television history in the making. It was like experiencing the end of "MASH" or "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." What was even more exciting was all the drama that happened the final day of the show. On the last night, when they were ready to tape the show and the audience were in their seats, the producers were back stage deciding what to do, because Patti Heaton (who plays the role of Raymond’s wife Debra) had lost her voice, and they had to decide whether to cancel. Well, for those of you who don't know what happened, I will let you watch the show to find out. Either way, it seemed like nobody on the cast and crew wanted the show to end, and I think it transferred to the screen.

After the shoot, I had three months to put the show together. I watched over 100 episodes, looked through years of great photos and even enjoyed a sushi lunch with Ray Romano, where he constantly made fun of me—which I thought was awesome.

I hope you enjoy the show. I am very pleased with how it turned out, even though half of it had to be clips (what can you do?) Also, if any of you have high-definition television, be sure to check it out. We shot it in high definition and it looks amazing. Plus, for those of you who need to see credits, I have one at the beginning and the end of the show, and I also have a cameo in the show. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.?

Finally, I have included a variety of photos from the set, some of which I took and some of me in action.

First, the final day was very exhausting, and I decided to take a short nap on the Barone's sofa. The camera crew thought it would be funny to throw a blanket on me and take some photos. Seriously, I was just resting my eyes. They called it an example of the "worst sitcom in history." The second photo is of me with Marie's famous sculpture. As usual, I also took a number of black-and-white stills with my panoramic camera. Most of the time I was four to five feet away when I took them.

Also, while I was waiting to do the Raymond show, I produced the Scrubs DVD which comes out Tuesday. You can also find a funny cameo of me at the end of that documentary.

Cheers,
Jonathan Buss ’94

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