Taping of the “Friends” reunion special for HBO Max, which had been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus-induced shutdown of all television and film production, will potentially be completed by the end of the summer, said WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt during the NAB Show Executive Leadership Summit, produced in partnership with the Variety Streaming Room. The hotly anticipated reunion of the six “Friends” cast members was originally slated to be available on the WarnerMedia-backed streaming service at launch on May 27.
“At first we thought, shows will be delayed for a month or two at the most, and now it seems like it’s going to be far longer than that,” Greenblatt told Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton on Monday. “We’re holding out for being able to get this special done hopefully by the end of the summer, if the stars align and hopefully we can get back into production. We do think there’s a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together and we didn’t want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms.”
But Greenblatt did say that if the current stay-at-home conditions continue indefinitely, that the reunion “may go more to a virtual route, if it is delayed too long.”
“But at the moment, we’re trying to look to the future and get this thing done in a more conventional way, and I think it’s worth waiting for,” he said. “We would have loved to have had it on [HBO Max on] Day One, but at the same time, if we can get it launched in the fall, I think it’ll be something that we can have the audience really looking forward to as well.”
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer were all scheduled to reunite for the unscripted reunion. The special was set to film on Stage 24, the original “Friends” soundstage on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank.
HBO Max, which debuts in just two weeks, will encompass shows and movies from HBO, Warner Bros, TNT, TBS, CNN and other WarnerMedia properties, and will cost $14.99 a month, going head-to-head with Netflix, Disney Plus and other streamers in a bid for a slice of viewers’ entertainment budgets.