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Arts and Entertainment

TV Junkie: Interview with Ray Romano of TNT's 'Men of a Certain Age'

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Andre Braugher, Ray Romano, and Scott Bakula star in TNT's "Men of a Certain Age". Season 1 is available on DVD as of today an the series returns on December 6th, 2010.

Andre Braugher, Ray Romano, and Scott Bakula star in TNT's "Men of a Certain Age". Season 1 is available on DVD as of today an the series returns on December 6th, 2010.
On December 6th the second season of "Men of a Certain Age" returns to TNT and coincidentally the first season is available on DVD as of today. TNT has been re-running episodes in preparation for the new season so now you have several options to catch up on one of the best shows to (barely) debut in 2009.

Despite its awkward premiere date, the critically acclaimed show about 3 men realistically negotiating their way through middle age, managed to secure an Emmy nomination for Andre Braugher (who we interviewed last year), who equally shares screen time with series co-creator Ray Romano, and co-star Scott Bakula (who we've talked to a couple times).

We managed to ask Romano a few questions last week and we focused on the process of writing the program with co-creator Mike Royce. If you haven't watched "Men of a Certain Age" because you weren't a fan of Romano's "Everybody Loves Raymond," you have to know that "Men of a Certain Age" is a completely different show: it's a drama with real-life humor, it's shot single camera, there's no laugh-track, etc.

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While it's true that Mike Royce was a writer on "Raymond" and that there is a lot of humor in the series, Royce and Romano have created a compelling reality bolstered by amazing performances from the principals and supporting cast, including Brittany Curran and Lisa Gay Hamilton - everybody has their chance to shine in this show.

If you watch TV exclusively for explosions, police procedurals, reality dance and/or vomiting competitions, or sports, then this show probably isn't for you. If you like really great writing and performances, this is a show very much worthy of your time.

LAist: Hello Mr. Romano...

Ray Romano: How are you?

LAist: I'm doing great. I had a question about what your working process with [series co-creator] Mike Royce is like on this show, and how that might have changed from when you where working on "Everybody Loves Raymond" together.

Ray Romano: Well on "Raymond," he was one of the writers on the staff. You know, Phil Rosenthal kind of ran the writer's room and I was in there whenever I wasn't on stage. And this, it's just me and him and you know, it's kind of new for both of us running the show. And not only that, it's a one-hour and it's a single camera.

So what we learned on "Raymond" though was -- what made "Raymond" flow so smoothly I guess compared to other sitcoms or from what I hear -- is we started the season with scripts written, with about 12 scripts fully written already. You know, Phil made sure that we were - had that going, and that made all the difference.

And so that's kind of what we tried to do here, Mike and I. We started writing. We had a staff of only five writers, and we met in like February to start filming in August, or maybe March.

We met in March, and we weren't going to start filming till August. So we just you know, we beat out stories the room, and we got scripts written before we started filming. And it's still a crazy amount of work but it seems to be manageable now.

LAist: Were there things you learned last season in this process with Mike that you adapted to for this season?

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Ray Romano: Well, I mean, it worked last year, where we wanted to make sure we could do that again, and we only had 10 episodes last year. This year we went to 12 episodes. And we were kind of - we were kind of sure we could handle it. And it's caught up to us a little bit now, because now we're filming now and we’re in our tenth episode and we still have to write the finale. And it's kind of catching up with us.

So if anything I mean we just - we're just learning that it pays to be ahead of the game as far - nothing you know, when you've got to rush the creativity process it never really comes out as good as you want it. So I mean if anything, we're just learning to prepare.

You know, it's catching up with us a little bit, but we're going to make it. You know, if we had to do a 16 episode season right now, things - we would be in trouble -- which is why we're not going to.

LAist: Thanks for talking with us today.

Ray Romano: All right, thanks.

"Men of a Certain Age" returns to TNT on Monday, December 6 at 10pm. Season 1 of the series is available on DVD today.