HBO has officially given the green light to the long-rumored Friends reunion special. The network has confirmed that the Friends reunion will feature all six main stars of the original show and will premiere in May on HBO Max to help launch the new streaming service.
The Friends reunion special will be an hour-long unscripted show starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer. Friends creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman are also involved in the reunion. This is not a new scripted series like the original show, but instead a one-off reunion of some kind. The format of the show is unclear, and it’s also unknown if the actors will be in character.
The six core stars are getting massive pay-days for for the reunion special. According to The Hollywood Reporter, each star will receive between $2.5 million and $3 million to appear.
The six actors are said to have collectively negotiated for the fees in the Friends reunion special. This is in keeping with tradition, as fans may recall that the actors also negotiated together to be paid $1 million per episode for the original show. This kind of collective bargaining was rare at the time, and it still is today for major TV shows.
As much as $3 million each, plus fees for Crane and Kauffman, will make the Friends reunion a very expensive TV show for just one hour of programming. That being said, Friends is one of the most iconic TV shows in history, and getting all six actors back together for a special like this should go a long way toward driving interest in HBO Max and help it get off the ground.
The announcement of the Friends reunion special comes after the removal of Friends from Netflix at the end of 2019. The only way to (legally) watch Friends currently is to buy the seasons digitally or on DVD, and sales have been booming in the wake of the show’s absence from Netflix. All 236 episodes of Friends’ 10 seasons will be available on HBO Max in May alongside the reunion special.
The new Friends special will be filmed at Warner Bros. Studio’s Stage 24, which is where the original show was filmed. The producer of James Corden’s late night TV show, Ben Winston, will direct the Friends reunion special.
“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together–we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library,” HBO Max boss Kevin Reilly said in a statement. “I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends–and audiences–gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”
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