Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has confessed the $1 million (£625,000) per episode salary the cast of the hit sitcom received at the height of its popularity was “ridiculous”.
After the Emmy-winning series took off, cast members Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry hit headlines in 2002, when they successfully negotiated with studio executives to receive $1 million per episode, earning a total of $24 million (£15 million) each per season.
During the Television Critics’ Association press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday (28Jul15), Kauffman, who executive produces Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie, was asked to speak about the differences between working for a network such as NBC for Friends, as opposed to Internet streaming service Netflix.
The Friends cast based their salary negotiation on high ratings and syndication deals, while Netflix bosses do not share viewing numbers at all, and when asked if Netflix’s policy to withhold viewership has any affect on castmembers’ ability to negotiate salary, Kauffman said, “It’s a different situation… Advertisers aren’t pandering to us or the network… All we’re doing is making the show we want and that we believe in.
“But let’s be honest, that’s a lot of money. $1 million dollars an episode is kinda ridiculous… I think it’s inflated. And there’s something unrealistic about it. Not everybody is going to get a million dollars an episode. So I think actually what we’re all doing now (making shorter seasons) is actually more reasonable and makes more sense.”
Incidentally, talk of pay raises centred around Grace and Frankie earlier this year (15), when the show’s stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin revealed they make less than their co-stars Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, despite the fact the women are the two titular characters on the programme.