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 is set to gather for a special on HBO Max, HBO's new streaming service launching May 27, 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.
Production has been delayed again.
Like other shows and movies during the global pandemic, the Friends special is adjusting its filming schedule. And according to Entertainment Weekly, any hope that the series would be able to shoot in late summer 2020 has quickly dwindled. The publication is reporting that shooting "has been pushed back indefinitely due to the ongoing pandemic." And as Entertainment Weekly reports, the reason for the special's delay is obvious: "As California has become a hotspot for the coronavirus over the past month, taping an in-person reunion no longer seems possible in the immediate future." Insert weeping emoji here.
A post shared by Jennifer Aniston (@jenniferaniston) on Feb 7, 2020 at 11:58am PST
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."
The project was initially slated to film on March 23 and 24 in Burbank, but was "delayed until at least May," The Hollywood Reporter stated in March. Then, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt explained, per Variety, "We’re holding out for being able to get this special done hopefully by the end of the summer, if the stars align and hopefully we can get back into production."
The option for doing the reunion virtually is less likely, although it may be possible if production is "delayed too long," Greenblatt added. "We do think there’s a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together and we didn’t want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms,” he said.
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."
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.
A post shared by Jennifer Aniston (@jenniferaniston) on Feb 21, 2020 at 2:04pm PST
It will not be available when HBO Max launches.
Because of the delay in production, the Friends reunion special will not be readily available on HBO Max when the new platform goes live on May 27. The exact launch date is still unknown.
But every Friends episode will be on HBO Max.
Now that Friends is off Netflix, the series—all 236 episodes of it—will find an online home at HBO. Get ready to stream it nonstop in May.
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."
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.
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