|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
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