‘Friends’-less focus planned for ‘Joey’

Spinoff will wait before sending invite to castmates

The rest of the “Friends” cast won’t be there for “Joey” — at least, not initially.

Exec producers Scott Silveri, Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Kevin Bright said they’ll take pains to differentiate the Matt LeBlanc-led spinoff from the mother ship. That includes avoiding the temptation to tap into the “Friends” well too soon.

“Making another ‘Friends’ is too much pressure for all of us,” Bright said. “It would be a mistake to start looking in that direction. This show needs to stand on its own.”

Silveri and Goldberg-Meehan — who recently watched the pilot episode of “Cheers” spinoff “Frasier” for inspiration — said they don’t even plan to introduce elements of the spinoff into the final episodes of “Friends.”

“We want to keep it completely separate,” Goldberg-Meehan said. “We don’t view ‘Friends’ as a launching pad for the other show. It won’t have anything to do with the ‘Joey’ show.”

Silveri said that means waiting a while before inviting former “Friends” castmates onto “Joey.”

“Obviously if any of those guys would be interested down the line, that would be great,” Silveri said. “But it’s so down the line.”

But before they map out “Joey,” Silveri, Goldberg-Meehan and Bright — as well as creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman — have to oversee the final hoorah for “Friends.”

With just 18 episodes this season, “Friends” plans to start shooting on Aug. 14 — and will finish production on the final episode in January. That means producers will have to keep the show’s finale a big secret for five long months, until the finale airs in May.

“It’s going to be difficult, but we’ve been very successful in the last bunch of years in keeping our season finale a secret,” Bright said.

The early wrap on “Friends” will also give the exec producers time to focus on “Joey.”

Now that they’ve been given a crack at creating their own slice of the “Friends” legacy, Silveri and Goldberg-Meehan — who joined “Friends” in its third season — said they felt as if they’d just won the lotto.

“Every step along the way has been challenging and exciting; this is just the next one,” Silveri said.

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