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This Oscar season, everybody loves Ray Romano's irreverently uplifting illness comedy, The Big Sick. (On the small screen, we're also enjoying his Epix show, Get Shorty). But what is Ray's heart most into at the moment? Hosting the annual Comedy Celebration of the 450,000-member International Myeloma Foundation on Nov. 4 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. Romano's mentor and Everybody Loves Raymond costar Peter Boyle died of the illness in 2006, and with Boyle's widow, Romano has raised more than $6 million for research into this cancer of blood plasma cells. Tickets go for up to $1,000, and the one-night event could conceivably raise another $1 million.
This would be Romano's most lucrative night of entertainment since his five-minute joke set on David Letterman's show in 1995, which inspired Letterman to offer to produce Everybody Loves Raymond — which earned Dave more than $500 million when it was sold into syndication. To earn millions for the Myeloma Foundation's Black Swan Research Initiative, Romano and fellow comedians Fred Willard, Hannibal Buress, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser, Robert Klein, Marc Maron and René Hicks, a myeloma survivor, will try to get laughs from guests, including Patricia Heaton (The Middle), Howard Hesseman (Fresh off the Boat), Lanny Joon (Baby Driver) and Daphne Lee (Miss Black USA). You can watch red carpet arrivals and place online bids in the IMF silent auction when parts of the event are streamed live on Facebook from 6 to 9 p.m. PT on Nov. 4.
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Ahead of the event, Romano talked to AARP about Boyle's influence, why actors get better as they get older and how he came to hit a whole new career high as a Martin Scorsese actor.
Most major Oscar pundits (including me) predict Oscar nominations for The Big Sick. Will you win your first Oscar at 60?
Listen, I know I'm negative, and I like to downplay everything, but no. I will have been in a movie with someone who gets nominated, and that someone will be Holly Hunter. Maybe it'll get best original screenplay. Best picture? My agent thinks so because it was very popular in a summer when there weren't many popular ones. The fact we're having this conversation is the best thing that could've happened to me as far as my career goes.
But you didn't want to do The Big Sick, an unexpected, fact-based rom-com smash about a young Pakistani-American comic, his comatose fiancee and their imperfect parents.