Phil Rosenthal found success as the creator and executive producer of the long-running hit comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond.” But beyond the show, Rosenthal over time became a foodie and even an investor in restaurants around Los Angeles.
It was a remark by “Raymond” star Ray Romano, who had never traveled outside the country, that convinced Rosenthal to take the show on the road to Italy. Watching Romano’s world suddenly expand gave him a new crusade: Spreading the joy of travel and exploration to others.
“Food is the great connector, and laughs are the cement,” he recently told IndieWire’s TURN IT ON podcast. “If we go out to eat and have a nice meal, that’s one thing. If we can share a laugh, now we’re friends.”
IndieWire recently spoke with Rosenthal at the ATX Television Festival, where he screened an episode of his series and discussed the new season. The news of Anthony Bourdain’s passing had just broken, and Rosenthal opened the panel by paying tribute to Bourdain and how he inspired shows like Somebody Feed Phil. Later, we began the discussion by noting how much his show makes you hungry. Listen below!
Rosenthal first hosted the series “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” on PBS. But when the public broadcaster couldn’t fund a second season, Netflix swooped in and gave him a new home. The retitled “Somebody Feed Phil” is now in its second cycle, and the latest batch of episodes include Phil as he travels to Venice, Dublin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Capetown and his hometown of New York. Along the way he meets up with folks including Al Roker, Tracy Morgan, Elaine May, Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren, and chefs such as Nancy Silverton.
But the real stars of “Somebody Feeds Phil” may be Rosenthal’s parents, whom he checks in on from time to time. “Dad is 92, Mom is 84,” Rosenthal said. “He’s still all there, the jokes are great. I don’t think they’re his. But he remembers them. For selfish reasons I put them in the show because, guaranteed laughs!”
The New York episode is personal for Rosenthal, who at first wanted to do the definitive episode of the city — until he realized that was impossible. ” This is a good lesson for writers: You can’t write the definitive anything, but you can write yours. So you see my New York,” he said. “We all relate to each other’s reality. Whether you like me or not, you’re at least getting a guide to these places because I’m getting great tips.”
Rosenthal has now compiled his travel tips in one place, at the new website PhilRosenthalWorld.com. It’s there that he shares his passion for exploration: “You’re never going to be as young as you are right now. Go now, don’t wait!”
And if you can’t get out of town, there’s plenty of ways to travel in your own city. “There’s probably some strange to you cuisine that you’ve never tried. But look at the phone and menu and before you know it you like Peruvian food!
This conversation was recorded live at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, TX. For information on how to attend next year’s festival (June 6-9, 2019), please visit: atxfestival.com. To hear a bonus interview with Phil Rosenthal from the festival, subscribe to THE TV CAMPFIRE wherever you get your podcasts, or visit ATVXP.com to hear/watch more panels, Q&As, and conversations from ATX.
IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now on TV — no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.
Special thanks to KROQ’s DJ Omar Khan for the new theme song!