On May 6, 2004, an estimated 51 million people tuned in to watch the final original episode of "Friends." Here are six surprising things you probably didn’t know about NBC’s long-running comedy series...
“Insomnia Cafe” Was the Name Originally Pitched for the Sitcom The creators of the show pitched a new television sitcom in the 1990s called “Insomnia Cafe,” which also had a different focus such as Monica and Joey being the main love interest instead of Rachel and Ross. When the pilot was bought by NBC, they changed the name to “Friends Like Us” and considered naming it “Across the Hall.” It changed again to “Six of One,” but finally ended up as “Friends” by the time it premiered in September 1994.
The Show Could Have Had a Different Cast Many actors were considered to play the different roles in the show, including Jane Lynch and Kathy Griffin, who became pals when they were auditioning to play Phoebe. Matthew Perry won the role to play Chandler, but Jon Dryer and Jon Favreau both tried out for the part. Perry almost lost out too because he appeared in a pilot for LAX 2194, which was never picked up.
Courteney Cox Was Chosen for a Different Role Courteney Cox was the best known of the actors chosen because she had appeared in “Dancing in the Dark,” a music video starring Bruce Springsteen. She had appeared in many commercials as well. The producers wanted her to play the part of Rachel, but she asked to play Monica because it was a stronger character.
The Cast Members Negotiated Their Salaries as a Group The cast members were all paid about $22,000 for each episode in the first season, but during the second season, the salaries became slightly different. All of the members of the cast joined together to insist they get $100,000 for each episode in 1997, which was great leverage to use with the network. During the last season, each member of the cast was raking in $1 million for each episode.
The Fictional Cafe in the Show Has Inspired Replicas Central Perk, the coffee shop frequented by the friends in New York, is fictional; however,copies have sprung up in different places. One was opened in Beijing in 2010. It was so popular, the owner constructed a copy of Joey’s apartment next to it. A chain of three Central Perk coffee shops opened in Liverpool, England, but wasn’t as popular and are now closed.
A Bet Brought Mega-Star Bruce Willis to the Show Bruce Willis appeared with Matthew Perry in the movie The Whole Nine Yards, and Perry bet that the film would hit number one at the box office, while Willis disagreed. The movie ranked as number one in February 2000, and Willis had to appear as the love interest of Rachel and the father of Ross’s girlfriend while donating his pay to charity.