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The Friends reunion special is delayed again at HBO Max.
The one-off special featuring all six original stars was poised to film this month on the show’s iconic Warner Bros. soundstage in Burbank, Calif., but has now been pushed to a new, yet-to-be determined date because of the pandemic.
“You’re asking me to extrapolate what the conditions in L.A. are going to be in August, and that’s a fool’s errand,” HBO Max head of original content Sarah Aubrey told The Hollywood Reporter in June. Star Lisa Kudrow said in May that the production was eyeing August or September to reunite on the show’s iconic orange couch but Southern California continues to be a hotspot for the novel coronavirus. Sources say the cast and HBO Max leadership all want to reunite in person on the former NBC comedy’s iconic Stage 24 at the Warner Bros. lot so a virtual reunion is not an option.
“We haven’t all been in the same room in front of people — I mean, we have privately once many years ago but that’s it. The whole point of this is to be in the same room. That hasn’t changed. And HBO Max is being phenomenally patient and understanding,” Kudrow told THR.
Officially given a formal green light in February and poised to film in March, HBO Max announced in April that the highly anticipated reunion would miss the streamer’s launch, delivering a blow to the subscription streaming platform’s debut. Production on the special shut down March 18, joining hundreds of other film and TV shoots across the globe to do so.
“As was previously reported, production is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that the special will not be available on the streamer on Day 1 of launch. But it is coming!” HBO Max said in a statement at the time. “The cast and producers are all very excited to go into production, as this will be the first time since the show ended that the whole cast will be together, and on the original sets to reminisce. There are loads of great surprises in store and lots of rare behind-the-scenes footage they are eager to share. We will keep you informed as plans solidify and once we have a firm premiere date. Lastly, in order to avoid any misunderstanding about what this special is, we want to make it very clear that this is not a new, original episode of the series. The cast will be appearing as themselves, not as their beloved characters. And though fans will have to wait a bit longer for the reunion, they can watch all 236 episodes of the series on day one of HBO Max launch in May!”
Stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, as well as series creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, are all set to participate. On Largely all TV and film production — save for animation and voice work —has stopped amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As to what filming may look like amid the pandemic, Kudrow said in May that she hoped there will be tests available. “If everyone’s tested and clean, then we don’t have to be 6 feet apart. Everyone who checks out, so to speak, can sit next to each other on the couch. Because from one end to the other might be 6 feet and one of the two chairs? I thought of that too. But the reunion of the cast and celebration of the show will definitely happen.”
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