9

FRIDAY

One reason why everybody loves Ray Romano is that we see ourselves in his act. That is, Romano doesn’t traffic in the usual superficial jokes about airplanes, motels, New York, and L.A. Instead, he discusses his life as a married family guy with kids. Although unattached urban comic Jerry Seinfeld once created a hit show about nothing, network execs and mainstream audiences really prefer programs dripping with sentiment that reinforce the status quo. The producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, Phil Rosenthal, is the man given most of the credit for the recent success of President Clinton’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner video. In David Wild’s recent book, The Showrunners: A Season Inside the Billion-Dollar, Death-Defying, Madcap World of Television’s Real Stars, Rosenthal explains his philosophy for producing the series: “Be nice. Everybody be nice, because I’ve worked on shows where it wasn’t so nice.” It’s an operating principle that neatly reflects that of the star. Romano makes nice with the laughs tonight at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. $35-$50. (202) 467-4600. (Dave Nuttycombe)