James Burrows is dishing about how he helped the "Friends" cast enjoy one last night on the town before fame — and it was all thanks to gambling.
The legendary television director opens up in his new memoir, “Directed by James Burrows,” out June 7, about taking the show’s six cast members on a trip to Las Vegas in 1994 just before the hit sitcom debuted on NBC.
Burrows dined with the show’s future stars at Wolfgang Puck’s famed restaurant, Spago, where Burrows advised Jennifer Aniston (or “JA” as he calls her), Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc to enjoy one last evening of anonymity.
“I made a reservation for just the seven of us at Spago,” he writes in his memoir. “I asked for the center table in the restaurant, where everyone could see us. I knew the show had a chance to really take off and told the kids, ‘This is your last shot at anonymity. Once the show airs, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded.’”
“None of them believed me,” he adds.
Burrows recalls loaning all six of the broke actors $200 a piece so they could have a little fun in a casino — but one of them quickly blew his share.
“I laid out fourteen hundred dollars,” writes the director. “If the math doesn’t seem right, it’s because (Matt) LeBlanc had no idea how to play craps and he lost his two hundred dollars in seconds, so I gave him another two hundred.”
Of course, “Friends” would go on to become a hit series, just as Burrows predicted, with all six of the show's stars more famous than they ever could have dreamed.
“They went back to Los Angeles. The show premiered, they’ve never had a shot at anonymity since, and they each wrote me reimbursement checks for the money I gave them,” writes Burrows.
Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, Schwimmer, Perry and LeBlanc became pals early on and remain so to this day.
"The six became real friends and would play poker in my dressing room,” writes Burrows, who also co-created “Cheers” and directed every episode of “Will & Grace” during its original eight-season run.
“It was about bonding. They genuinely adored one another. A director and cast live for that kind of connection.”