I'll be there for you... unless you might be carrying a highly-contagious illness, that is. With the deadly coronavirus rapidly spreading across the world, many major television and Hollywood productions have been shutting down to help contain the spread. The latest project to be placed on hold at this time is HBO's planned Friends Reunion Special with all six original actors, as the network has shelved the revival due to coronavirus concerns. Reportedly, the revival was set to begin filming as early as next week, though the shutdown will delay principal photography until May at the earliest. HBO and Warner Bros. Television have yet to officially comment on the reports.
This news is not exactly surprising, as it's just the latest of many major productions to shut down in the interest of the health and wellness of the cast and crew members working on the sets. The popular Netflix shows The Witcher and Stranger Things both placed the shooting of their next seasons on hold, with other major shows like The Walking Dead, The Handmaid's Tale, and Atlanta following suit. Several big screen releases have been affected as well, which includes the anticipated superhero movie The Batman with Robert Pattinson and the upcoming movies Jurassic World: Dominion, Uncharted, and Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
All of the key cast members from the original series will return, as the revival will include Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Greene; Courteney Cox as Monica Geller; Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay; Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani; Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing; and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller. Ben Winston is directing the Friends reunion special. He'll also be executive producing alongside Friends exec producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. All six Friends stars are exec producing the project as well, with Emma Conway and James Longman co-executive producing.
Friends aired for ten seasons in total from 1994 to 2004, spanning 236 episodes in all. The simple premise follows a group of six young friends living in New York and the ways their relationships with one another would evolve over ten years' time. Though it went off the air many years ago, the series has maintained its status as one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, with its classic episodes giving Netflix one of its most-watched available shows during its time on the service. Perhaps that's why WarnerMedia and HBO spent upwards of $400 million for the exclusive rights to the reruns to help give HBO Max something strong to kick off with.
The Friends revival was intended to coincide with the launch of HBO and WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service, HBO Max, which is set to arrive in May. We'll apparently have to be waiting a little longer to see the reunion special, but as of now, all ten original seasons of the classic comedy series will be streaming exclusively on HBO Max when the service launches. Hopefully binge-watching the classic episodes will hold fans over until the revival picks back up. This news comes to us from Variety.