Friends Creator Says Stars’ $1 Million Salaries Were “Ridiculous”

Marta Kauffman, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Anniston
Marta Kauffman weighed in on Friends Jon Ragel/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

No take-backs! In the early 2000s, the stars of Friends famously negotiated their way to salaries of $1 million per episode each, but Marta Kauffman, one of the show's creators, questioned the totals in a recent interview.

"A million dollars an episode is kinda ridiculous," Kauffman said on a panel at the TCA Summer Press Tour. "Let's be honest, that's a lot of money."

Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer united to nab the then unheard-of salaries, riding the success of the show until its wrap in 2004 after 10 seasons.

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"There's something unrealistic about it," continued Kauffman. "Not everybody is going to get a million dollars an episode. So I think actually what we're all doing [now] is actually more reasonable and makes more sense."

While Kauffman is now leading iconic stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in Grace and Frankie, the veteran actresses are taking home far less than the millions that the six stars of Friends earned.

"It's such a different situation, because ratings are connected to advertisers," she added. "That was a case where the cast knew how valuable the show was to the network in terms of the advertisers."

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Despite the record-setting haul, there seems to be little hope for Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer to reunite. While various groups and combinations of the stars have gotten back together informally in recent years, it may take a lot more than a $1 million payday to inspire an official, on-screen Friends reunion.

"I don't see it happening," LeBlanc told HuffPost Live earlier this year of a reunion. "The show was about this finite period of time in your life where it's after college, but before your life really starts, where your friends, no pun intended, are your family, and you lean on one another, and help one another, and support one another, and care for one another, and do the things a family does for one another and that’s what it was about. I mean, nobody wants to see, I certainly don’t wanna see, Joey and Chandler going for a prostate exam. Who wants to see that?”

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