'Friends' reunion special won't tape until there can be a live audience

The reunion was originally going to be available when HBO Max launched May 27.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Randee Dawn

You gotta have "Friends," but fans of the classic sitcom are going to have to wait a little longer before they get to see the gang reunite.

Though the reunion special was originally set to be available on new streaming service HBO Max when it launches May 27, production has been shut down around Hollywood due to coronavirus distancing efforts. And now, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt says it's looking more likely to tape over the summer, and not until there's a live audience on hand.

All of our "Friends": (l.-r.) Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow.NBC

When is the "Friends" reunion show?

"We’re holding out for being able to get this special done hopefully by the end of the summer, if the stars align and hopefully we can get back into production," Greenblatt told Variety on Monday. "We do think there’s a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together and we didn't want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms."

The entire cast from the Emmy-winning sitcom, which ran from 1994 to 2004 on NBC, is expected to participate once everything aligns properly: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. The reunion is set to tape on Stage 24, the original "Friends" soundstage, on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California.

A scene from "Friends" episode "The One with Chandler in a Box." The reunion is expected to tape on the same stage as the original series.NBC

Still, Greenblatt did allow that they might have to resort to the "six squares" route if isolation due to the coronavirus continues much longer than the summer. Things "may go more to a virtual route, if it is delayed too long," he said.

For now, though, "We're trying to look to the future and get this thing done in a more conventional way, and I think it's worth waiting for," he added. "We would have loved to have had it on (HBO Max on) day one, but at the same time, if we can get it launched in the fall, I think it’ll be something that we can have the audience really looking forward to as well."

Until then, HBO Max subscribers will just have to comfort themselves with all 236 episodes of the series, which will be available later this month.