Paulie’s Perspective – A Very Friendly Reunion

So this has been bubbling up for about 17 years. The show was always in the top five in all ten seasons that it ran. It was the anchor for NBC’s famous slogan, “Must See TV” in the 90’s. The famous sitcom ran from 1994 to 2004, and became one of the most beloved and successful shows of all time. 

So it ends in 2004, and the finale is seen by a very impressive 52 million people, and Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica and Joey all go their separate ways. Will there be movie careers? Other shows? Probably, most definitely – well, we don’t know. 

If they should do other projects – it will not be because they need the money. Because of their contracts – each cast member of Friends gets 2% of syndication income. Industry figures puts Friends at $1 billion a year in syndication revenue, giving each cast member, $20 million every single year.  Not a bad chunk of change for being in a sitcom 17 years ago. 

So because they are getting paid so much, did they do the much anticipated Reunion special for free?  Oh no, my friend. According to Variety, each member got paid $2.5 million to be on the special. When the show began, they were each getting just $22,500 per show – they ended up getting $1 million per show. These friends came a very long way. 

Okay so now let’s get to the special – it was filmed in 3 parts. 

First part, which I’m assuming was the first day – they all came in, saw the sets and greeted each other. Which was nice to see. They stayed on set, told stories about certain episodes the producers brought up, which was nice. Then they did a table read of the some of the scenes that the producers brought up, which was nice. Then they sat on the couch and watched some bloopers from the shows that the producers brought up. This day was nice because they all had some very heartfelt stories to tell and it was good to see just them together shooting the breeze and see how they all really interacted with each other. This day they also went and gave a quick tour of their dressing rooms and backstage area. 

Second part was in front of a live audience, on set and in the studio. They recreated the trivia game episode where the girls lose their apartment to the boys. This day is when the special guests came on to relive some glory. I am certain they did not get $2.5 million to do it, but they did it anyway. You had the grumpy old neighbor, Mr. Heckles played by Larry Hankin come in live and do a very quick bit. Then you had the big gun come in – Mr.  Blue Bloods himself – Tom Selleck. Tom stopped by on set to say hi and read a question. Obviously nothing between him and any of the cast, but it was nice to see him there anyway. Another boffo celebrity who wasn’t there but did chime in was Reese Witherspoon who played Rachel’s sister on the show. Reese basically just did a sit-down confessional saying how much she loved being a part of it all. 

Third and final part was the night time gala in front of a live audience with the creators there and hosted by the very British James Corden. Now I hate this guy but he is good with live television and he did do a great job of wrangling everyone up and moving things along. At this night time gala, were the people responsible for Friends, David Crane, Marta Kaufman and Kevin Bright. Probably the most interesting thing in this reunion was when the creators talked about how they came up with the show and the huge undertaking of casting such a thing. The casting stories were extremely interesting and that is definitely the part that is worth watching. Some actors they were very adamant about getting, and others just fell on their laps. The important thing is the creators recognized who they wanted and who they didn’t and obviously it worked out brilliantly. Let me share a bit of it with you. 

Ross, David Schwimmer, was the first one they went after. They saw David in something – they loved him and actually wrote for him from the very beginning. Problem was, David had quit Hollywood and moved to Chicago to do theater. He had a lot of pilots and they all went nowhere. The creators called him, sent him gift baskets and pleaded with him to come back for one more try. Could you imagine if David turned them down and watched this show become an enormous hit making everyone rich and he said “no” and stayed in theater? Boy that is a regret you could never get over. 

Lisa Kudrow was basically already playing Phoebe on the hit show Mad About You with the comedic genius Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. So once they saw her in that, their minds were made up. 

Courtney Cox, when casted, was the biggest name out of all the Friends, at the time, being on Family Ties and that music video – but she wasn’t big enough that should would steal the show – so they took her on. 

Rachel came in from nowhere and had to audition. Jennifer was doing another pilot, as she had been doing for some quite some time, and they auditioned her and wanted her. She was on another show at the time that was being shopped around, it never made it, so she went to Friends. 

Joey also, came from nowhere, and had to audition. Matt was in a few things here and there but nothing major – the creators saw him and made him audition again and again until they were sure. 

Chandler also came from nowhere. Matthew was scraping up work in television but had to audition as well, and they loved how he read, so he got the part. 

I thought this segment was the best thing about this reunion because it just tells the tale of these young kids – working hard and barely getting by in the television world, one of them even quit – and this show comes along and turns them from rags to riches. I’m always a sucker for something like that, and also to see how each of them handle it, is wonderful to see too. Some of them handled it extremely well, otherwise it seems, were enjoying their own kool aid. 

So let’s get to it – and let’s start with Jennifer Aniston. We know her from the movies she co-stars in, I don’t think she ever headlined a movie, which is pretty smart of her.  She has worked with Vince Vaughn, Adam Sandler, Gerard Butler and the likes and has eked out a tremendous living in Hollywood. She’s had some work, but her face still moves, and she seemed very genuine in the reunion, so we like her and I think she is doing very well. 

Courtney Cox – her face is still worse than Michael Jackson’s. It looks like you could mold it into any shape you want. She looks like a female Plastic Man. Monica seems to have a negative spin on things, like she tried to be a big name but just can’t do it. She seemed shy and reserved, but you could tell she really loves the gang. 

Chandler Bing has had some problems. He’s had severe addictions to drugs and alcohol, and he battled pancreatitis. He says he was so bonkers that he does not remember being on Friends from Season 3 to 6. So, we should give him a pass, but wow does he look horrible. Sad part is he is worth $80 million dollars and this is the best they can make him look!!

Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc seem the happiest out of all them, and they actually look human. Matt just looked like a happy Uncle at Christmas, soaking it all in, and Lisa was warm and friendly and just so happy to be there. These two are clearly the winners of the Friends Afterlife and it’s so nice to see you can have the American Dream happen to you and still be very happy and normal. 

Ross is a bit of an issue. You could see how serious he takes everything, he considers himself  a Marlon Brando and his face never moves, no matter what expression he does. It must be killing him that he can’t get a movie role in Hollywood. He thinks he deserves an Oscar just by walking on stage. Also, it was troubling that he literally jumped out of his seat when Justin Bieber came out wearing his Spud-Nick uniform. David literally turned into a teenage girl, screaming and clapping when the teen idol came onstage. It was a bit troubling for me. Does Ross love Teletubbies too? Would he go wild if the dog from Blues Clues came onstage? 

It was great to meet the actual personalities of these actors who kept us company and eased our burdened minds all those Thursday nights. Some of them are genuinely good people, others have egos the size of Minneapolis, but they were able to co-exist and do their jobs brilliantly for 10 fantastic years. We owe them a lot, and I thank them for all the joy and happiness they brought to everyone all over the world. Interesting that Courtney Cox said this would be the last time they were all asked about the show as a group  – and I’m not so sure about that. If this finale goes well – there could be another one down the road somewhere. Hopefully we’ll have some friends with us to tag along. 

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