Patricia's Past and Future
February 3, 2005

Apparently it's not just Raymond who everybody loved: just days after taping the final episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond," Patricia Heaton landed a multi-million dollar new deal for herself, and she celebrated with "Extra."

But Heaton admitted she had a slightly rocky start at the hit show: "I remember I had a babysitting issue when I had my first audition, and I said, 'Can I just do this, because I've got to go,' and they were like, 'That's Debra, exactly.'"

And now, more than 200 episodes later, Patricia has become a TV icon, and saying goodbye to her "Everybody Loves Raymond" family has left her speechless. "Right before we were supposed to do it, literally I lost my voice," Heaton recalled. "For nine years we've never had to not do a show, until the final episode."

Heaton added, "Unfortunately, Ray had flown his whole family out from New York, parents, brothers, spouses, kids, and they had to stay an extra week in his house."

The final episode eventually got filmed last week, and Debra took a few of her trademark bathrobes as mementos, and she admitted that she's already discovered something about her post-"Raymond" self: "I'll tell you one thing that I discovered now that 'Raymond' is over, I'm a much nicer person when I'm not working. I didn't realize how compartmentalized I had to be for nine years."

So what do you do when you leave a top-rated show? Well, Patricia told us that if her four young sons had their way, she'd do nothing. "They're all like, 'Mom, you're not going to do another show are you?'" Heaton related. "Yes, I'm jumping back into it. I have a production company, buh-bye."

And Heaton has kept her word; she just signed a $7 million deal with ABC to develop and star in her own projects, but before all that, she's making a stop on "Oprah."

"The final week I kept going around asking, 'What are you wearing on Oprah? What are you wearing on Oprah?'" Heaton told us. "You don't want to be too matchy, it's got to be coordinated right, except sort of focused on me."

She's kidding of course -- but all jokes were put aside when we gave Patricia one last chance to say farewell to her "Raymond" fans: "Thank you for loving us, we loved you and we loved doing it for you. So ta-ta for now."

Patricia is a spokesperson for
World Vision’s tsunami relief
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