“Friends” had the last laugh Friday. The final episode of the hit NBC series, which ends its 10-year run in May, was being filmed at the Warner Bros. studio Friday night.
Series stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer were to trade their last quips and inevitable hugs around midnight.
“Friends” tended toward long production days and, with emotions running high and an extended, hourlong finale to film, a quick finish was unlikely on Stage 24, the sitcom’s longtime home.
The mood this week has been “deeply emotional, very sad,” Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television, said Friday. “But beyond the sadness, I think there is an enormous sense of accomplishment.”
The cast, which shared real-life friendships as well as highly productive salary negotiations, talked with reporters last week about the series’ end.
“We’re like very delicate china right now,” said Aniston, who plays single mom Rachel. “And we’re speeding towards a brick wall, inevitable pain.”
Said Kudrow: “Looking back on all the fun ... is not going to help me leave. I mean, that’s exactly what I can’t be thinking about because that’s the saddest part for me.”
The actors have the chance to drown their sorrows at a wrap party Saturday, being held at a secret location in the Los Angeles area.
Friday’s studio audience was limited to “a very special, invited guest list,” Roth said. Measures were taken to safeguard plot leaks, according to the show’s producers.
“There are elements that the audience will not be seeing that we’ll be shooting before the audience comes in,” series creator and executive producer Marta Kauffman said last week. “And then you just keep your fingers crossed that everybody lives up to what they say that they will.”
However the May 6 finale plays out, will “Friends” fans be satisfied?
“As one of the show’s biggest fans, I am enormously satisfied with it. I was enormously satisfied with the script, and I certainly hope fans will be satisfied as well,” Roth said.
The top-rated comedy for the last six seasons, “Friends” is going out in style. Thirty-second ads for the show are reportedly fetching $2 million, close to Super Bowl prices, according to Horizon Media, an ad buying firm.
In its 10 years, “Friends” received six nominations for best comedy series and won the award once, in 2002. A spinoff starring LeBlanc, “Joey,” is set to debut next season on NBC.