Ray Ramano: Lisa O'Connor/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Gary Susman
July 25, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Everybody Loves Raymond” may be a top-10 hit show as well as a critical hit that picked up 11 Emmy nominations last week, but it can’t go on forever. So says series creator Phil Rosenthal, who tells Variety that the upcoming seventh season may be the show’s last. Referring to CBS chief Les Moonves, Rosenthal says, ”I love Les, and they’ve been incredibly supportive. But when it’s over, it’s over. You don’t want to get repetitive, and I’ve never seen a show get better after seven seasons.”

Variety notes that CBS’ contracts with ”Raymond”’s producers and with star Ray Romano expire next May, and while CBS will surely want the show to continue, Rosenthal says he and Romano will have to decide this winter whether they want to keep going. Rosenthal insists that, even if CBS offers a more lucrative deal, he doesn’t want to keep the show going if its quality slips. ”The decision won’t be made over money,” he says. Indeed, when ”Raymond” launched, Rosenthal gave back $16 million to Disney from a separate production deal rather than quit ”Raymond.”

”You mine for gold as long as you can, but when we’re out of stories, the show is over,” Rosenthal says, though he does have one method for keeping the ideas flowing for the dysfunctional family sitcom. ”If I can’t think of anything, I can go home to my wife and pick a fight,” he says. ”Then I have another few episodes.”

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