How the stars of "Friends" managed to win a million dollars per episode and the fortune that each one will receive for their long-awaited one-hour Reunion
The "Friends" special will premiere on May 27 in the United States on HBO Max.
In 2002, the cast of "Friends" - Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, and Matthew Perry - established that they would each take a $ 22 million 22-episode season. This much-talked-about arrangement placed them among the highest-paid actors on TV for a half-hour episode.
However, when they weren't yet big celebrities in their early days, they were making $ 22,500 per episode. But as the comedy began to catch on (season 2) and Rachel and Ross's romance became a central theme on the show, Aniston and Schwimmer began to earn more than the rest of their peers.
Aniston commented in a recent interview with the British newspaper The Independent that she was not comfortable with the distinction "We are doing the same thing, and we all have a right to be compensated in the same way," he added.
The cast didn't like that pay gap. So when season three rolled around, they entered into contract negotiations not as individual actors, but as a group, led by Schwimmer and Kudrow, according to Entertainment Weekly magazine. As such, Aniston and Schwimmer's wages dropped to match the rest of the cast.
After that, each received the same pay per episode for the remainder of the sitcom's remaining eight seasons. Salary negotiations were conducted with all six stars in the same room.
Season by season, that number went up - from $ 75,000 in season 3 to $ 1 million in the last two years on the air. The biggest jump came between seasons 6 and 7 when actors began receiving $ 125,000 per episode to $ 750,000. Those negotiations were so tense that even NBC executives weren't sure if they would be able to renew the show.
In the ninth and tenth seasons, which premiered in 2002 and 2003, the six stars earned $ 1 million per episode.
In hindsight, "Friends" co-creator Martha Kauffman claims that the million per episode was "ridiculous," but the actors didn't think so.
For Kudrow, it was about making the most of the moment of great attention. Actors, he said, are "basically independent," so they need to prepare for the moment when they will inevitably be out of work again. She also maintained that each of the actors could not exist without them; therefore, they should take advantage and take that when fighting for their salary increases.
Perhaps it was that mentality that led the actors to earn royalties for broadcasting and merchandising rights. According to USA Today, each cast member still receives $ 20 million annually for doing nothing.
Actors are characters, they are essential, and I don't think it's out of place to ask, you know, 'make me a partner somehow, Kudrow said earlier in an interview. LeBlanc echoed Kudrow's claims, telling HuffPost Live: "Were we worth a million dollars? For me, that is such a strange question. "He added: "That is irrelevant. We were in a position to get it, and we did it. "
The actors maintained this group mentality also in other spaces. For example, they would participate in the same categories in awards. The hope was that although they would compete against each other, neither would be labeled first or second figure.
"Friends: The Reunion"
Next Thursday, May 27, the HBO Max platform will premiere in the United States a special "Friends" program that will bring together the six members of one of the best sitcoms in history. In Latin America, you will have to wait until the end of June to see it since the streaming service is not yet available in the region.
The protagonists filmed the show at Warner Bros. Studio 24, located in California. This was the location where the most popular comedy in television history was originally shot, ending on May 6, 2004, after ten successful seasons.
The program was scheduled for last year, but the pandemic prevented it and delayed it by almost a year. "It's official. The 'Friends' Reunion arrives on May 27. I couldn't be more delighted," Aniston inscribed on her Instagram account with the show.
Special guests in this episode will be David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, James Cordon, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Elliote Gold, Kit Harrington, Larry Hankin, Mindy Kaling, Thomas Lennon, Christina Pickles, Tom Selleck, James Michael Tyler, Nobel Laureate, Maggie.
Friend: Ben Winston directed Reunion. The series' creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, served as executive producers alongside Kevin S. Bright. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer are also executive producers.
The actors demanded double the salary they received for each episode.
Sources close to the project told a variety of sites last year that each of the six stars would receive between $ 2.5 million and $ 30 million to participate in the special.
In 2020, all ten seasons of "Friends" left Netflix in the United States and joined HBO Max in the deal, which reportedly cost Warner Media more than $400 million for the rights to the original series. ۔
"Friend," which premiered on September 22, 1994, closed ten hit seasons in 2004 after 236 on-air episodes featuring Instinct, Perry, and Schwimmer Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc.
But comedy remains a phenomenon for countless fans worldwide who are still willing to watch, repeatedly on reruns or on digital platforms, the stories of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross.