It’s by no means an exaggeration to say that the upcoming Friends reunion special on HBO Max is one of the most hotly anticipated events in TV history, with fans having been calling for a reunion of the show for years before the special was announced.
The beloved sitcom turned 25 last year, and remains one of the most popular sitcoms in living memory, but viewers are having to wait longer than originally expected due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The one-off special was originally due to film in May, however the pandemic has halted all production on the reunion – with star David Schwimmer claiming that “we’re still trying to figure that out” – although an August shoot has been suggested.
We’re still not exactly sure what the special will look like, although we do know that it will be unscripted and will feature the actors as themselves rather than their characters.
And Schwimmer recently claimed that the show would have, “funny surprise bits throughout” which has led to even more excitement about the special.
Read on for everything we know about HBO’s Friends reunion.
Will there be a Friends reunion show?
Yes! It’s hard to believe it after years of false rumours and firm denials, but the Friends cast are getting back together for one last time in the set that housed the sitcom for its decade-long run.
Murmurs of a special return began emerging in early February, as Deadline reported the six main stars had been locked in “tough negotiations” over the project.
Later that month, an official announcement came to the excitement of fans around the world, who had recently been celebrating the 25th anniversary of the show’s initial premiere.
When is the Friends reunion released?
The reunion was originally scheduled to land on HBO Max back in May, but HBO was forced to delay filming on the unscripted Friends special due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
WarnerMedia Entertainment head Bob Greenblatt told Variety that he wanted the event to be watched by a live audience and not filmed via webcam.
“We do think there’s a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together,” he said. “We didn’t want to just suddenly do it on a web call with six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms.”
It looks like he will only get half his wish. In June, co-creator Marta Kaufmann told The Wrap the show could film in the iconic studio lot in August, assuming that there hasn’t been a second spike.
David Schwimmer (Ross) then told Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show that filming was due to happen in August, saying: “It’s supposed to happen maybe in August, the middle of August.” However, he added, “Honestly we’re going to wait and see another week or two if we all determine it’s really safe enough to do. And if not, then we’ll wait until it’s safe.”
A date of 17th August had been reported. However, in early August, it was announced that filming had again been postponed.
Jennifer Aniston told Deadline: “Unfortunately it’s very sad that we had to move it again,” adding: “This is not a safe time. Period. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a safe time to do it.”
But, on a more positive note, she added: “It’s going to be super. You know what? This has also given us more time to make it even more exciting and more fun than it would have been. So I choose to see it as the glass is half-full that it got postponed. Look, we’re not going anywhere. You’re never going to get rid of Friends, sorry. You’re suck with us for life guys.”
Recent reports suggest that strict guidelines will be enforced at the reunion, meaning all of the stars will be tested for COVID-19 and asked to isolate until the results come back.
We’re still hoping the reunion episode will be filmed and released before the end of the year, but this latest news does bring that into question!
Which cast members are returning for the Friends reunion?
It’s The One Where… All the Friends Return. Back in February, HBO Max confirmed that the ‘friends’ – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer – will all reunite for the documentary special.
The big question is: will there be any surprise cameos? The pandemic has decreased the likelihood of that, but it’s possible the crew could line up cameos from the likes of James Michael Tyler (Central Perk’s Gunther) or Maggie Wheeler (Chandler’s unshakeable ex, Janice).
How much are the Friends cast getting paid for reunion?
It was previously reported that the six stars will each pocket a hefty sum of over $3 million for the appearance, according to Deadline, while the documentary will help promote HBO Max, HBO’s upcoming streaming service.
Speaking on Friday 21st February, HBO Max boss Kevin Reilly said: “Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together – we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library [for US viewers].
“I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation.
“It taps into an era when friends – and audiences – gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”
What will the Friends reunion be about?
The special, which will be available to watch on premium subscription service HBO Max, will be an unscripted reunion featuring all six ‘friends’, with the show’s original creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane also being involved.
Being a documentary special, we will not see the cast reprise their beloved roles, but instead chat about stories from behind-the-scenes.
Friends is currently available to watch on Netflix for UK subscribers.