New York pop-up celebrates 25th anniversary of 'Friends'

Central Perk's famous orange sofa, Chandler and Joey's reclining leather armchairs and Phoebe's guitar: All are on display at an exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary of the super-hit sitcom "Friends."

The pop-up exhibit opened in New York on Saturday as part of celebrations marking a quarter of a century since the first episode aired on NBC, and runs until October 6.

It is also a way for Warner Bros. to cash-in on the comedy series' seemingly never-ending popularity, 15 years after the last episode was broadcast in May 2004.

"It's like a museum. The amount of details, of props, and just the craftsmanship that has gone into this event is astounding," said James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther, the timid waiter in love with Rachel.

The studio has recreated the set in a huge loft in Soho, Manhattan, almost exactly. Everything from the furniture to the decor is the same.

Visitors can lounge on the famous armchairs where Joey and Chandler would shout at the television, eye their foosball table, or open the door to Monica and Rachel's apartment just across the hallway.

"When I first walked in, I just burst into a smile. Every corner that I turn and all the things that I could see brings back a lot memories and it's so well done," said Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice - Chandler's ex-girlfriend with an annoying, nasal laugh.

The exhibition, which is already sold out, is part of a wider effort to mark the anniversary and capitalize on its popularity among younger audiences who weren't even born when the final episode was broadcast but have discovered it through reruns on Netflix.


More than a thousand movie theaters in the United States are planning to show some iconic episodes this year while lines in "Friends" toys and furniture, including the orange sofa, have been launched around the world.

"In the case of 'Friends', people absolutely fell in love with those six people," said Michael Lembeck, who directed 24 episodes, referring to the characters played by Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.

"We love their behaviors in these situations and we absolutely associate with what's made for them and we're going to watch them every week because we're crazy about them," he added, explaining the series' longevity.

Tyler (Gunther) admits he is a little saddened by the nostalgia trip at the exhibition, saying he misses the days on set.

"I was very lucky. I don't take it lightly. I was blessed to have been part of this show," said the 57-year-old.

"Friends" has a huge fan base in China. It is even recommended by many English teachers to their students to observe the fundamentals of spoken American English. On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform in China, a hashtag with "Friends-Central Perk" has attracted 700,000 followers, and recently the account has been actively sharing some most memorable clips from the show with the fans.

"'Friends' definitely is a classic, always been imitated, never surpassed," wrote a fan, the comment gained over a thousand thumbs-ups in a few hours.

Source(s): AFP