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Don't count on this one to be a Zoom call
Friendsis officially back on the streaming market, thanks to its inclusion in the HBO Max launch day library, which means now is as good a time as any to revisit the "we were on a break" debate and enjoy the Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) fashion show anew. While all 10 seasons of the hit NBC sitcom are now available to stream on WarnerMedia's new streaming service, fans will have to wait a little while longer for that much-anticipated cast reunion special to arrive to its library because, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the special was not filmed prior to launch.
HBO Max previously confirmed that the reunion would not be available on launch day, but the special was not canceled, and producers still plan to bring all six cast members -- Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and LeBlanc -- together on the show's original sets for the first time since the beloved NBC sitcom ended in 2004. The good news, too, is that the Friends reunion probably won't turn into another of those virtual Zoom reunions that have become so common as a result of social distancing measures and production shutdowns.
Per Variety, WarnerMedia exec Bob Greenblatt revealed that he is hopeful that the Friends reunion might be filmed by the end of the summer, "if the stars align." He indicated that he is hoping not to change HBO Max's plans to tape the unscripted reunion in the Warner Bros. studio with all six stars of the show together along with a live audience.
"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," Greenblatt said. However, if social distancing measures continue to remain in place indefinitely, he said that they "may go more to a virtual route, if it is delayed too long."
No exact date for filming of the Friends special has been announced by HBO Max at this time, nor has a premiere date for the special.
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The Friends reunion was first confirmed by HBO Max in February, following months of rumors that the streaming service was negotiating with the series' six leads to create the reunion special fans had been hoping to happen for years. Although HBO Max's chief content officer Kevin Reilly told reporters that it was still a "maybe" in January, the next month it was reported that the cast had reached a deal with WarnerMedia to star in the reunion special and would earn around $3-4 million apiece for their appearance.
The special is expected to be filmed at the show's original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. lot and will be directed by Ben Winston. Friends executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane are returning to executive produce the special, and all six stars are executive producers on the special as well. Emma Conway and James Longman are also co-executive producers.
Friends is one of the biggest TV titles joining the HBO Max library upon launch; the streaming service secured the rights to stream the sitcom in July 2019, ending its five-year streaming run at Netflix. Netflix reportedly paid $100 million to keep the show in its streaming library throughout 2019 following the expiration of its original deal at the end of 2018. In addition to Friends, HBO Max will also offer original shows and movies as well as other TV favorites, likeThe Big Bang Theory, The West Wing, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Pretty Little Liars.
HBO Max launched on Wednesday, May 27.
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