The Ally v. Raymond verdict: Everybody still loves him

    When CBS scheduled Everybody Loves Raymond against Fox's lava-hot Ally McBeal, it seemed inevitable that the bony lawyer from Boston would steamroll right over Ray Romano's little sitcom that could. But it is possible to overestimate the power of a short skirt. Raymond is whining his way onto more TV sets than Ally each week: The sitcom is ranked 15th with 15.1 million viewers this season, far ahead of McBeal's spot at 22nd with 13.8 million fans. "We were blown away," says Raymond exec producer Phil Rosenthal. "We were at a run-through when the numbers [first] came in, and we stopped everything and made an announcement, and everybody cheered." How does Rosenthal explain the upset? "Everyone on our show has no problem eating." Raymond is making inroads into the all-powerful 18-to-49 crowd, too; while "Ally" is still averaging nearly 3 million more of those valuable viewers weekly, "Raymond" is up 23 percent in that demo over last year. Although Rosenthal isn't planning any quirky fantasy sequences to attract more younger viewers, he does have an ace up his sleeve: "Listen, we have real babies. If we want them to dance, they'll dance." -- Kristen Baldwin.