'The Office': Ray Romano not replacing Steve Carell

ray-romano-nov-2011-gi.jpg Ray Romano wants to make it perfectly clear: He is not replacing Steve Carell on "The Office."

The star of the NBC workplace sitcom exits the show in a "super-sized" episode Thursday (April 28), and Romano will turn up in the May 19 season finale, along with James Spader ( "Boston Legal") and British comedy star Catherine Tate. However, the former staple of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and current writer-actor on TNT's "Men of a Certain Age" stresses it's only a brief visit.

"It's a cameo," Emmy winner Romano tells Zap2it. "It's real quick, a drive-by. One of the writers on the show, Aaron Shure, was on 'Raymond,' He called me at the house and asked if I would do it, and I said, 'Yeah.' As soon as I took it, though, I thought, 'Oh, I hope people don't think I'm going to take the place of Steve Carell. I know we're going to get all the hate mail on the Internet.'"

And has he already? "You know me. Unfortunately, I seek it out and find it and it ruins my day. And sure enough, there it was: 'Romano! Grrrrr!'"

Nevertheless, the comedian notes he had "great fun" with his "Office" stint. "It's such a different tone, and it's a tone I think I get. I think it came out good, but who knows? I'll have to see. Would I go back again? Yeah, but I will not be taking Steve Carell's place, though I play a guy who interviews for that job."

Indeed, Romano remains committed to "Men of a Certain Age," which begins a new run of six episodes Wednesday, June 1. He's also working on the fourth animated "Ice Age" movie, slated for release next summer, and he's invoked by a current film: "Exporting Raymond," in which Phil Rosenthal -- his main creative partner on "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- has a very challenging time consulting on the Russian version of the comedy series that's now a TV Land fixture.

"I thought it was really funny," Romano says of the documentary. "The clash of cultures is there, and he found the humorous side of it. They take our scripts, but they don't just do them word-for-word. They have to adapt whatever doesn't translate, and it's amazing to see their sensibilities about a man's place in the family and what is or isn't funny. It's a good movie."
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