Filming on Friends Reunion Has Been Delayed Due to Coronavirus

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On February 22, Friends fans finally got the news they've been waiting more than 16 years to hear: Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler were reuniting for the first time since Friends aired its series finale on May 6, 2004. But today, less than one month later, the world is in a different place. With the total number of cases of coronavirus rising every day, film and TV production around the world has essentially come to a halt until further notice. Now Deadline is reporting that filming on HBO Max's planned Friends reunion has had to be postponed as well.

Though still relatively little is known about exactly what the special will entail, early reports are that it will be more of a Friends retrospective, where the beloved sitcom's stars—Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer—will take a look back at the show that changed the course of their lives, and is still finding new audiences more than a quarter-century after it first debuted on NBC in September of 1994.

According to Deadline:

"Given the severity of the health crisis, which ground all Hollywood production to a halt in a matter of days, it is currently doubtful that any film or TV production could resume by May though the situation is being evaluated week by week and even day by day. Right now, there are strict federal and state guidelines limiting public gatherings to help curb the spread of the virus, which are expected to be in place for weeks."

The good news—at least for now—is that the change in schedule may not affect the special's premiere date. While no official release date has been given, it's believed that the Friends reunion will be available for streaming as soon as HBO Max makes its debut (there's no official date for that either, beyond that it will be in May).

Though filming has reportedly been pushed to May, because the special will be more of an interview format than a scripted series, prepping it in time for HBO Max's launch should not be as daunting a task. Provided it's safe for them to film when May rolls around.

For now, we'll have to wait—and be content to know that we'll see all six Friends together again in the very near future. In the meantime, you can satisfy your craving for never-before-seen Friends content with 25 minutes of bloopers.

[h/t Deadline]

Mifflin Madness: Who Is the Greatest Character on The Office? It's Time to Vote

Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.

Your years of watching (and re-watching) The Office, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, have all led up to this moment. Welcome to Mifflin Madness—Mental Floss's cutthroat competition to determine The Office's greatest character. Is Michael Scott the boss you most love to hate? Or did Kevin Malone suck you in with his giant pot of chili?

You have 24 hours to cast your vote for each round on Twitter before the bracket is updated and half of the chosen characters are eliminated.

The full bracket is below, followed by the round one and round two winners. You can cast your round three vote(s) here. Be sure to check back on Monday at 4 p.m. ET to see if your favorite Dunder Mifflin employee has advanced to the next round. 

Round One

Round Two

Round Three

The Office Planned to Break Up Jim and Pam in the Final Season—Then (Smartly) Thought Better of It

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly's relationship in The Office was truly a romance for the ages. Fans were delighted when, in Season 3—after years of flirting—John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s characters finally got together. But an alternative plan for the show’s ninth and final season saw the couple going their separate ways.

Season 9 saw one of the most stressful storylines the show had to offer when Jim took a job in Philadelphia and Pam struggled to take care of their children on her own back in Scranton, putting intense strain on their otherwise seemingly perfect relationship. In one unforgettable scene, a particularly tense phone call between the couple ends with Pam in tears. Fischer’s character then turns to someone off camera named Brian for advice.

As Collider reports, Pam and Jim's relationship could have taken a turn for worse in the final season—and the writers had planned it that way. As recounted in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, series creator Greg Daniels sat down with each of the show's stars before starting the final season to discuss where their characters would go. John Krasinski, who played Jim, pitched the idea of putting Jim and Pam’s relationship on thin ice. According to Krasinski:

"My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do … And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Several writers weighed in with ideas about how they might handle a split between Jim and Pam from a narrative standpoint—though not everyone was on the same page.

Warren Lieberstein, a writer on the series, remembered when the idea of bringing Brian—the documentary crew's boom operator—into the mix. “[This] was something that came up in Season 5, I think," Lieberstein said. "What if that character had been secretly there the entire time and predated the relationship with Jim and had been a shoulder that she cried on for years?’ It just seemed very intriguing." Apparently, the writers thought breaking the fourth wall would jeopardize the show, so they saved it for the last season.

Writer Owen Ellickson said there was even some talk of Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit," but the negative response to the storyline led the writers to "pull the ripcord on [Pam and Jim's separation] because it was so painful to fans of the show." Ellickson said that they backtracked so quickly, they even had to re-edit certain episodes that had already been shot to nix the idea of Jim and Pam splitting up. Which is something the show's millions of fans will be forever grateful for.