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Program:  Friends
Broadcast History:
First Telecast: September 22, 1994
Last Telecast: May 6, 2004
Network(s): NBC
Currently Airs  On: TBS will Start on Nick in 2011
Previously Shown On:
Available Formats: DVD
Related Links: (none)
Get the Rembrandt's performing "I'll be there for You" and 49 other great themes on "TV Guide's 50 All-Time Favorite TV Themes."

Friends Resources

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Air dates and titles for all episodes

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How the Show Began:
So how did this instant TV classic come about? It all started in 1989 when John Landis asked Universal Studios if he could make a show out of all the old TV programs that Universal had in its library, a lot of which were anthology shows. He then asked David Crane and Marta Kauffman to come up with an premise. The result was the hit HBO series "Dream On, " produced by Kevin Bright. After earning a few Emmys and CableAce Awards, NBC was anxious for the team to come up with something for their "Must See TV" Thursday night schedule, anchored by "Cheers."

The team started rounding up a cast. Jon Cryer was originally offered the role of Chandler Bing. They hired Matthew Perry who had already worked with them on "Dream On" playing a sneaky, young upstart executive. Leah Remini auditioned for the role of Monica. Their first choice for Rachel was Tea Leoni, but she wasn’t available. Courtney Cox was originally asked to play Rachel, but she asked to play Monica instead after reading the parts. James Michael Tyler was given the part of Gunther because he knew how to operate a cappuccino machine, he was actually working in a coffee shop in Hollywood when he got the part of Gunther. He kept his coffee gig for the first four seasons of "Friends." When Matt LeBlanc auditioned for the role he only had $11 dollars to his name. When the cast got their paychecks the first thing Jennifer Aniston bought was a car. Matt LeBlanc bought a hot dinner.

The original idea for the show was going to focus on four characters with Phoebe and Chandler in supporting roles. In the early stages the creators toyed with the idea of Chandler being gay. They changed their mind after giving the part to Matthew Perry. They did, however, insert many jokes about Chandler having gay mannerisms (not knowing about sports, loving show tunes, etc.).

The pilot of "Friends" was shot on stage 33 (the same stage as "Living Single" (1993)) at the Warner Ranch, and the first season was shot is Warner Bros Stage 5, now the home of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (1996)) from 1987-1995 When the series was picked up, Warner Brothers assigned them the same soundstage that was used for the filming of the sitcom "Full House" (1987/I) during it's last two seasons (1993-1995) of it's eight year run (1987-1995).

Before the show premiered, NBC ran a promo to get people to watch the new show. The first and second season promos both had the Friends in their underwear and Monica being upset about it. The fountain used in the opening credits is in the park setting of Warner’s back-lot. The scene was shot at 4:00AM and the water in the fountain had to be heated. The group was given the words to the Rembrandts song but it was not playing in the background because the song had not been recorded. You might remember seeing the fountain in "Dennis the Menace," "Bewitched," and many other classic shows filmed at the General Services Studio.

On Thursday September 22, 1994 We're introduced to the gang as they hang out at  their favorite places: Central Perk, and Monica's apartment. By the end of the first episode, that becomes Monica and Rachel's apartment. Rachel leaves her Mr. Potato Head-look-alike fiancé Barry at the altar, she moves in with Monica and discovers that independence sucks when you don't have daddy's credit cards to rely on. The script was written by David Crane and Marta Kauffman.

But don’t get the idea that everything just came together, there were times when things just didn’t click. The suits at NBC wasn’t happy with the pilot and director James Burrows was called in to tinker with the chemistry. Burrows is considered a TV genius and directed some of the best episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Bob Newhart Show," "Rhoda," "Taxi," "Cheers," "Night Court," "Wings," "Frasier," and "Two and a Half Men." He was called in from time to time to keep the quality up on "Friends."

In the first episode, "The One Where Monica Gets A Roommate (a.k.a. The One Where It All Began)" Monica goes out on a date with "Paul" (John Allen Nelson) the wine steward from her restaurant. The next morning we find out that Paul spent the night, and slept with Monica. Before the episode could air, a questionnaire regarding Monica's promiscuity was passed out at the taping. Apparently NBC was concerned that we’d consider Monica a tramp for sleeping with Paul on the first date, even though Paul deceived her with some a story about his "two year dry spell." Of course this never stopped us from welcoming Monica into our homes for the next ten seasons.

On the set, Matt LeBlanc was known as "LeBlanc" by all the cast and crew, and Matthew Perry was known as "Matthew" or "Matt". This was started by the crew to avoid confusion.

In the first couple of episodes Chandler and Joey's apartment number was #4 and Monica and Rachel's apartment number was #5. However, in the later episodes, they are 19 and 20 respectively because the producers noted that 4 and 5 corresponded to apartments on lower floors and the Friends' apartments were higher up the building.

And the rest is history, captured in 238 great episodes!

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