The 'Friends' Diaspora

Writer-producer alumni of the classic sitcom continue to score top TV jobs -- but more often than not, the shows don't last.

NBC's Friends aired its last episode in 2004, but the impact of one of TV's most successful comedies is still being felt in Hollywood. "From the writer of Friends" is the No. 1 calling card that still prompts TV executives to hand over the reins of comedies. Co-creator Marta Kauffman is generating interest for a pitch based on Spanish series The Red Band Society. But a review of the track records of Friends alums shows mixed returns. This season is no different: Of the four sitcoms Friends veterans landed, one (NBC's Free Agents) already has been canceled and another (CBS' How to Be a Gentleman) demoted to the Saturday night graveyard. Alexa Junge, who had success on HBO's Big Love and NBC's The West Wing, was a co-executive producer on the Hank Azaria vehicle Free Agents, axed after four episodes. And Adam Chase went from the canceled Better With You (ABC) to the soon-to-be-canceled Gentleman. Production on that Kevin Dillon show has been shut down and its episode order cut from 13 to nine. Sherry Bilsing, who did a stint on the short-lived Friends spinoff Joey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus' The New Adventures of Old Christine, is back with Fox's I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Nov. 20), and Andrew Reich created ABC's Work It, a Bosom Buddies redux about two used-car salesmen who dress as women to land jobs (midseason).