Another day, another major unscripted content announcement from HBO Max. And this one is a biggie.
The streamer has unveiled plans for an unscripted special reuniting the cast of one of American television’s best-loved recent series, Friends, set to be available in time for HBO Max’s launch in May.
The WarnerMedia-owned streaming service made headlines when it was revealed that it would have the exclusive rights to all 236 episodes of the original series. The HBO Max parent company had previously been licensing the series to Netflix, and the streamer reportedly paid in the neighborhood of US$425 million to grab back the 10 seasons of the series for five years. Those episodes will also be available for viewing upon launch, according to HBO Max.
The unscripted special, to be produced by Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television and Fulwell 73 Productions, will bring the original cast — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer — back to the series’ original soundstage for what’s being billed as a “celebration” of the show, which ran from 1994 to 2004.
Ben Winston will direct the special and will executive produce along with Friends executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. The cast members will also serve as EPs, with Emma Conway and James Longman billed as co-executive producers.
“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,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president, TBS, TNT, and truTV in a statement. “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.”
The news follows an announcement earlier this week that the streaming service had further bolstered its unscripted slate with a competition series featuring reality star turned business magnate Bethenny Frankel, from MGM TV and Big Fish Entertainment.