Monday, May 27, 2024

TV: HBO Ponies Up At Least $20 Million for “Friends” Reunion Show to Launch Reruns on Streaming Service


“Friends” is the gift that keeps on giving.

HBO Max, the streaming service of HBO, has ponied up at least $20 million film a “Friends” reunion show. This will be like a talk show with clips, it’s a reunion episode that updates the characters. It will be the six main actors– Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc– reminiscing about their years making the hit series.

HBO Max will use this to launch their streaming reruns of “Friends,” all ten seasons, for which they paid gazillions of dollars and ruined Netflix’s day. The reruns launch on May 1st, which means this reunion show will be taped soon, produced and directed by Ben Winston, James Corden’s producer and now the hot guy in Hollywood. (He’s also taken over the Grammy Awards.)

The special will be taped at Warner Bros, at the same location the show filmed at for all those years.

What can I say? I am probably the wrong generation for “Friends.” “Seinfeld” was my show. “Friends” seem like a pale imitation. It wasn’t particularly good as a comedy. It was almost like a soap opera, I thought. The two main stories were Ross and Rachel, and whether Matthew Perry would make it through another season. The latter’s weight changed so dramatically from season to season, you wondered why none of his so-called friends never did anything about it.

Now that the show is in reruns around the clock on many platforms, I’ve watched it again, sort of passive aggressively. I always thought Lisa Kudrow was the underrated star. But because Phoebe wasn’t in a romantic pairing, you could feel the writers straining find places to put her. Courteney Cox– always had a crush on her. Her Monica is the most interesting because she’s got the past of being overweight and now is OCD. David Schwimmer also seems underrated, in hindsight. He was like Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin from “The Graduate.”

With paychecks for the special of between $2 million and $4 million per person, this cast really lucked into the deal of a lifetime 25 years ago. And the money for the special doesn’t include what they get with each new deal.  There used to be a monkey in the first couple of seasons. I doubt he’s getting a cut.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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