David Schwimmer says the Friends reunion special, one of most anticipated programmes in TV history, is “definitely going to happen... the real question is when [we’re going to film it]?”
Schwimmer was speaking on US talk show The Today Show and said the six cast members and producers had “a lot of the creative aspects of the show worked out”.
The Friend special will be unscripted, a documentary special featuring the cast as themselves rather than their characters, but “with funny surprise bits throughout”.
On the question of when the special would be filmed – its planned broadcast date was May, tying in with the launch of new streaming service HBO Max – he said: “We’re still trying to figure that out, because we want to do it when it’s safe to do so for everyone.”
After the May date was missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, producers hoped to reschedule for August, and Schwimmer said at the time: “It’s supposed to happen maybe in August, the middle of August, but 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 major obstacle the Friends special faces is the insistence by WarnerMedia Entertainment head Bob Greenblatt that the special is filmed in front of a live audience, as the long-running sitcom was. Obviously, social distancing guidelines are preventing that.
Schwimmer appeared on The Today Show with British actor Nick Mohammed to publicise their workplace sitcom Intelligence, which screened in the UK on Sky One in February, but has just premiered in the US on Peacock (a subsidiary of NBCUniversal).
The duo clearly enjoyed the experience of making Intelligence, with Schwimmer explaining why he got involved: "Mostly, I'm a huge fan of Nick's. He's a genius actor. He created the show, he wrote every episode. We've wanted to work together for a long time now. I liked the idea of a traditional workplace ensemble comedy set in the high stakes world of national security and cyber terrorism.
"Also, I thought this guy was a real hoot to play."
The entire 10 seasons of Friends can be streamed on Netflix, while the first season of Intelligence is available on NOW TV.