In 2002, the cast of Friends –Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry– established that each would take $ 22 million for a 22-episode season. This commented arrangement placed them among the actors with the highest salaries on TV. for a half hour episode.
However, in their early days, when they weren’t yet big celebrities, they won $ 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 teammates.
Aniston commented, in a recent interview with the British newspaper The Independent, that she was not comfortable with that distinction “It was more about ‘we are doing the same work and we all deserve to be compensated in the same way'”he explained.
The cast didn’t like that pay gap, so when season three rolled around, they started contractual negotiations not as individual actors, but as a group, directed by Schwimmer and Kudrow, according to the magazine Entertainment Weekly. So Aniston and Schwimmer’s wages decreased to match the rest of the cast.
Since then, each received the same pay per episode for the remainder of the sitcom’s remaining eight seasons, and 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 occurred between seasons 6 and 7, when actors began receiving de $ 125,000 per episode to $ 750,000. Those negotiations were so tense that even the executives of the NBC they weren’t sure if they would be able to renew the program.
In the ninth and tenth seasons, released in 2002 and 2003 respectively, the six stars earned $ 1 million per episode.
In retrospect, the co-creator of Friends, Martha Kauffman, alleges that the million per episode was “ridiculous”, but the actors did not think so.
For Kudrow it was about making the most of the moment of great attention. The actors, he said, are “Basically independent”, So they need prepare for the moment when they will inevitably be out of work again. She also maintained that each of the actors were part of the show, that it could not exist without them, therefore, it should be taken advantage of [esa situación] and take that when it comes to fighting for your pay raises.
Perhaps it was that mentality that led the actors to earn royalties for broadcasting and merchandising rights. In accordance with USA Today, each cast member still receives $ 20 million annually for doing nothing.
“The actors are the characters, they are necessary, and I don’t think it’s out of the question to ask that, you know, ‘make me a partner in some way,'” Kudrow said long ago in an interview. LeBlanc echoed Kudrow’s claims, expressing to him HuffPost Live: “Were we worth a million dollars? For me, that is such a strange question. “. And 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 program of Friends, which 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 recorded 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, delaying it for almost a year. “It’s official. The ‘Friends’ reunion arrives on May 27. I couldn’t be more excited”Aniston wrote on her Instagram account along with the sneak peek.
The episode will feature special guests: David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Elliott Gould, Kit Harington, Larry Hankin, Mindy Kaling, Thomas Lennon, Christina Pickles, Tom Selleck, James Michael Tyler, Maggie Wheeler, Reese Witherspoon and Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Prize winner.
Friends: The Reunion It was directed by Ben Winston. The series’ creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, served as executive producers, along with Kevin S. Bright. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry and Schwimmer were also executive producers.
The actors asked for double the salary they received for each episode.
Sources close to the project told the site Variety last year what Each of the six stars would receive between $ 2.5 million and $ 3 million for participating in the special.
In 2020, the ten seasons of Friends left Netflix in the United States and joined HBO Max in a deal that, it is rumored, cost WarnerMedia over $ 400 million for the rights to the original series.
Friends, which premiered on September 22, 1994, closed ten successful seasons in 2004 after 236 on-air episodes starring Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry and Schwimmer. But comedy remains a phenomenon for countless fans around the world, who are still willing to watch, over and over again on reruns or on digital platforms, the stories of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross.