Looking to make a splash for the upcoming launch of HBO Max, WarnerMedia appears to have landed The Big One.
The network has a basic agreement in place to bring together the complete cast of the streaming megahit Friends, according to The Hollywood Reporter and several other news sources. How big a deal is that? When you consider that Netflix paid $100 million just to keep episodes of the show on the service for one last year, you get a sense of the enduring power of the series, which has claimed a new generation of followers that wasn’t even born when Friends debuted 25 years ago.
So what do we know about the reunion so far?
Jen Is All In
Jennifer Aniston, who has had one of the more successful post-Friends careers (and a series currently headlining Apple TV +), has been lobbying for a cast get-together for years. On a recent guest spot with Ellen DeGeneres, she teased the new project. “We would love for there to be something, but we don’t know what the something is,” she said. “So we’re just trying. We’re working on something.”
They Got All Six
The six main cast members – Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and Kudrow – have remained close over the years. The women, in particular, have been known to spend time together, but it has been fairly rare for all six to get their schedules to work out. Then, in October, Aniston launched her Instagram account with a selfie of the whole crew (It got over 15 million likes).
Sorry…It’s Not a Reboot
It appears that the reunion will be some kind of unscripted, live-action show, the type of look-back that other programs have had difficulty pulling off. The creators of Friends, Marta Kauffman and David Crane have been adamant that the characters would not be updated. As Kauffman told a crowd at the Tribeca Film Festival in September: “This is a show about that time in your life when your friends are your family. Once you start having a family, that changes. So it wouldn’t be what’s at the heart of the show anymore.” And, she added, “We’re not going to beat what we did.”
And Not Quite a Done Deal
After paying $425 million to stream all 236 episodes over five years, HBO Max programmers would likely love to have the reunion ready for the service’s Spring 2020 launch. But insiders have cautioned that a lot could fall apart in dealing with the six principal’s various commitments – and they still have to figure out what the thing is actually going to be.