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Nation & World

HBO Max Wants To Know, How You Doin'? As It Teases 'Friends' Reunion

Cast members (from left) David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc pose after the show won outstanding comedy series at the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 2002.
Cast members (from left) David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc pose after the show won outstanding comedy series at the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 2002.

It could be called, the one that is finally friggin' happening.

All six original cast members of the megahit sitcom Friendswill come together for a reunion debuting in May, WarnerMedia announced Friday.

"It's official, Friends fans! After 15 years, nine months, and innumerable fan requests from around the globe, we now have the 'brand-new information' you've been waiting for," a statement read.

The reunion, which is being described as "an untitled unscripted special," will debut on the media giant's new streaming service HBO Max, along with all 236 episodes of Friends, which debuted in 1994 on NBC. Unscripted is industry speak for reality TV or a documentary, which indicates this will not be a reboot of the scripted series.

The show's stars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, all virtual unknowns when the show began — will return to the Warner Bros. soundstage where the show was shot, the statement said.

"Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together ... " said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, in the press release.

The show's episode titles began with the phrase "the one with" or "the one where."

Reilly, a longtime media executive who also serves as president of cable channels TNT, TBS and truTV, said he had the opportunity to work on the show during some of its 10-year-run on NBC. He said he was "delighted" the show continues to connect with audiences long after its original run ended in 2004, adding he hopes the reunion will recreated that same spark with audiences new and old.

"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."

Cox, who played Monica Gellar, whose character quirks included obsessive cleanliness, posted on Instagram a photo of the cast along with a caption that read simply, "It's happening...."

The reunion has been longed for by die-hard fans of the show ever since it ended its original run as one of the most successful shows in television history in 2004.

As Variety points out, rumors of the reunion have been "swirling since last fall" following WarnerMedia's acquisition of the show's rights.

Varietyalso reports each of the cast members will earn a lofty payday for appearing in the special – at least $2.5 million each.

Netflix previously had the rights to Friends.It had been one of that streaming giant's most-watched programs, until it bid farewell to the show in December, tweeting at the time, "The One Where We Have To Say Goodbye."

Warner Media outbid Netflix for Friendsand reportedly paid $425 million for the rights to stream all 10 seasons of the show.

Since it went off the air in 2004, Friends has displayed tremendous staying power, connecting with audiences that weren't old enough to remember the show during its original run.

The main characters — Rachel (Aniston), Monica (Cox), Phoebe (Kudrow), Joey (LeBlanc), Chandler (Perry) and Ross (Schwimmer) – were 20-somethings (at the start of the show) living in New York City.

In many ways, the show was groundbreaking, such as when the six principal cast members successfully negotiated a $1 million-per-episode pay out late in the show's run.

Friendshowever did — and continues to — have its share of critics, including those who point to the show's lack of racial representation for a series set in multicultural New York City.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.