After months (or, at this point, years) of rumors and anticipation, the Friends reunion of our dreams is going to become a reality. The cast was set to gather for a special on HBO's streaming service HBO Max, to honor the iconic sitcom's 25th anniversary. There have been some bumps in the road to production as the entertainment world is on pause during the coronavirus pandemic; but as we wait for what will be Jennifer Aniston's perfect behind-the-scenes Instagrams from the set, we're laying out everything we know about the project so far.
FILMING STARTS NEXT WEEK.
Sources told Deadline that shooting would begin next week (the week of April 5), in Los Angeles. But HBO Max has yet to confirm the news. There's no word yet on a release date, though.
The news arrives after Matthew Perry previously tweeted that the special would air in March.
ALL OF THE STARS ARE COMING BACK.
Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), and David Schwimmer (Ross) will reunite at the original Friends soundstage—Stage 24, at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank—to film. All six stars will also executive produce.
The Late Late Show writer Ben Winston will direct. He's also an executive producer, along with Friends EPs Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane; and Emma Conway and James Longman.
When the reunion news was announced, the leads all shared the same photo and caption on Instagram—"It's happening"—and tagged each other. (Good thing Aniston and Perry are now on the app.) The image, shot by Mark Seliger, is from the May 18, 1995 issue of Rolling Stone.
THE REUNION SPECIAL IS NOT A NEW FRIENDS EPISODE.
The main cast will reunite, revisit the set, have surprises, and share behind-the-scenes footage, but they won't be portraying their original characters. They'll simply be appearing as themselves.
HBO Max explained in a statement, "Lastly, in order to avoid any misunderstanding about what this special is, we want to make it very clear that this is not a new, original episode of the series. The cast will be appearing as themselves, not as their beloved characters."
PRODUCTION HAD BEEN DELAYED.
The project was initially slated to film on March 23 and 24, 2020 in Burbank, but was "delayed until at least May," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Then, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt explained the desire to have the cast reunite in-person, rather than virtually. "We do think there’s a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together,” he said.
There were hopes that production would begin in the summer, but it was "pushed back indefinitely" due to the pandemic, according to Entertainment Weekly.
During a phone interview with Deadline, Jennifer Aniston reacted to the postponement and said, "It’s going to be super. You know what? This has also given us more time to make it even more exciting and more fun than it would have been. So I choose to see it as the glass is half-full that it got postponed. Look, we’re not going anywhere. You’re never going to get rid of Friends, sorry. You’re stuck with us for life guys."
"Unfortunately it’s very sad that we had to move it again," Aniston continued. "It was, ‘How do we do this with live audiences?’ This is not a safe time. Period. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a safe time to do it."
David Schwimmer had previously expressed his hope that the reunion would take place in 2020, as he told Entertainment Weekly, "We're hoping it will be able to convene and shoot it in August, but the truth is, we'll do it when we all determine it's safe to do so." He continued, "There's no question we want to do it and it's going to happen. It's just really a question of when will be the safest time to do it."
A MINI REUNION WENT DOWN AT THE 2020 EMMYS.
Although none of the male cast members made appearances, the ladies of Friends, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow, all appeared together on-screen during last night's Emmys. While Aniston was speaking to host Jimmy Kimmel, her "roommates" Cox and Kudrow joined her. "We've been living together since 1994," Aniston quipped.
Though it wasn't the fully fledged reunion fans have been waiting for, it was a joyous surprise—and the least we deserve in 2020, TBQH.
LISA KUDROW IS READY FOR THE REUNION.
During an interview with The Sunday Times, Lisa Kudrow expressed her excitement about getting the gang back together again. She revealed, "No audience has seen us together since the show was over. We will reminisce, talk about what was going on behind the scenes. It’s not us playing our characters. It’s not an episode. It’s not scripted. It’s six of us coming together for the first time in I don’t know how long."
Kudrow also said that she loves getting together with her former cast mates as they all have such great memories. She said, "I think that I remember things, but then I talk to Matt [LeBlanc] or Jennifer [Aniston], and they remember everything. It’s really fun."
YOU CAN FRIENDS EPISODES ON HBO MAX IN THE MEANTIME.
Now that Friends is off Netflix, the series—all 236 episodes of it—have found a new online home at HBO.
THE CAST WILL REPORTEDLY MAKE MILLIONS.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the stars negotiated their fees together and will be paid between $2.5 million and $3 million each for the reunion special. That's much more than the $1 million-per-episode rates they had when Friends was still running.
YOU CAN JOIN IN ON THE FILMING.
The cast is offering up six tickets for the taping of the reunion special, although the date of the filming itself is still unknown. The auction is part of the All In Challenge, through which celebrities are raising funds for various organizations, like America's Food Fund.
Source: Harper's Bazaar