LOS ANGELES — If the cast members have anything to say about it, "Everybody Loves Raymond" will be back for another season.
"I don't know how they can quit," said Doris Roberts, who won an Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy series for her role as Marie Barone. "It's brilliant writing. I don't know how you can take that off the air, I really don't and I hope they won't."
Later, as the entire cast came backstage, Peter Boyle, who plays cranky Frank Barone, weighed in when creators Ray Romano and Philip Rosenthal were asked about the future of the show.
"The answer is yes!" he said.
Romano and Rosenthal said they will decide whether to continue for a ninth season in January. Rosenthal said winning the Emmy for best comedy does not necessarily mean the show should go on.
"There are two schools of thought," Rosenthal said. "This is very encouraging and we should take this and go. It's very hard to come up with stories, and we don't want to repeat."
Debra Messing was still pinching herself backstage at the Emmys, having won best actress in a comedy series on her fourth nomination.
"I can't imagine it being more sweet. I really can't," she said. "But it was wonderful to finally hear my name."
Like several other winners, Messing said that while she was thrilled to be clutching an Emmy, she was happiest having the chance to do what she loves.
"Every actress struggles," she said. "When you're a little girl and you have dreams of being an actress, you just hope that you'll get the opportunities to do just what you love and you'll be able to pay your bill... And the accolades — this is otherworldly, and I've never allowed myself the ability to dream this far."
Tony Shalhoub, who won for lead actor in a comedy series for his role as the obsessive compulsive detective Adrian Monk, said he felt torn between attending the Emmys and being with his family to mourn the sudden death of his 34-year-old nephew.
Shalhoub said his older sister's son, Greg Gensler, was diagnosed with a form of leukemia just days ago after complaining of back pain.
"They started him on chemo and the situation seemed to be stable for a couple of days and very quickly began to unravel," Shalhoub said backstage. "On Saturday, he had brain hemorrhaging. They just weren't able to do anything.
"It gave me kind of a dilemma because I wanted to be there with my siblings," said Shalhoub, who comes from a family of 10. "They all convinced me to stay. I thought it would be fitting to include him in this."
Joe Pantoliano, whose nickname is "Joey Pants," was tearful backstage as he recalled his humble New Jersey roots.
"For all my friends who heard me say, standing on the corner in front of the pizzeria, that I wanted to be an actor," he said, pausing to collect himself. "And now I'm able to make a living, to live the dream that that kid had on that corner, and now I get a nice trophy. It's not a bad day."
Pantoliano won a supporting actor Emmy for his role as mobster Ralph Cifaretto on the HBO series "The Sopranos." He exited the series in a particularly gruesome way, being beheaded. But he lectured the media on the finer points of mob lingo.
"I wasn't whacked," he said. "Whacked is a sanctioned Mafia hit. I was killed in cold blood."
Pantoliano, whose new series, "The Handler," premieres Friday on CBS, said he wouldn't be out late celebrating.
"I have a 6 a.m. call tomorrow," he said. "I have to get to work early."
Bill Cosby came backstage to talk to the media, but he didn't count on one question coming from Walter Cronkite, who had just finished talking to reporters.
The broadcasting legend asked what role Cosby's wife, Camille, plays in his life.
"Unconditional love," Cosby said. "She was 19, she's now 59. When I look at the challenges — Camille giving birth to five children, Camille looking after the finances, Camille checking who I was taking on as friends or as business partners, Camille never lying, always being true and Camille always being in love with me — it's wonderful."
Cosby, 66, who was awarded the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, also gave his approval to this year's Emmy format, replacing one host with a series of comics.
"This show moved a lot better than the others I've seen," he said. "It isn't long enough for you to become angry or get bored. It moved quickly, and that's important because I was waiting for my award."
While "The Amazing Race" may have won the Emmy for a reality series, the show has yet to be renewed for a second season.
"It's a thrill for all the people behind me who work so hard on this show," producer Jerry Bruckheimer said about winning a category that included rivals "Survivor" and "American Idol."
"We still haven't been renewed, so this is wonderful. CBS, are you watching?"