‘Friends’ Cast to Reunite for Special on HBO Max

The “Friends” cast will be reuniting exclusively for an untitled unscripted special for HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering debuting in May 2020.

The subscription streaming service will cost $14.99 a month.

Series stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer will return to the comedy’s original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank for a celebration of the show. The unscripted cast reunion special, along with all 236 episodes of the Emmy-winning series, will be available to subscribers at the launch of HBO Max.

“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together — we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president, TBS, TNT, and truTV, in a statement. “I became aware of ‘Friends’ when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends — and audiences — gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”

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Ben Winston will direct the special and will executive produce along with “Friends” executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer will also executive produce the special.

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To get caught up on original “Friends” episodes, sister WarnerMedia network TBS recently announced that for the next four weeks every episode of “Friends” will air on TBS and livestream on the TBS app, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, the network has curated an experience for fans offering the best of the series on their digital platforms.

HBO Max Expands Executive Team

AT&T’s pending subscription streaming service HBO Max Oct. 2 added several executives to its ranks.

The service, which is set to launch in Spring 2020, named Billy Wee SVP of original animation, and Nikki Reed VP of kids and family scripted originals.

Billy Wee

Wee comes from WarnerMedia’s TBS, where he was VP of original programming, and Reed hails from Viacom’s Nickelodeon, where she was VP of original series development.

“The kids and family space has a long history at WarnerMedia, from our legendary animation to classic motion pictures, and is now an essential part of HBO Max,” Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, and president of TNT, TBS and truTV, said in a statement. “We now have a top-notch team to create a slate of original content appealing to kids, tweens, young adults and the whole family.”

Nikki Reed

Separately, Max added Sarah Lyons as SVP of product experience. She previously worked for AT&T’s DirecTV unit as VP of OTT media products.

WarnerMedia executive Katie Soo, was named SVP of growth marketing, while Keith Camoosa, was named SVP of data insights and operations.

DirecTV Now’s Jess Miller was named VP of project management, while former Crunchroll executive Reid DeRamus was named senior director of business operations.

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Meanwhile, Sean Kisker, transitions to EVP and chief strategy officer for Otter Media and WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer. He will work with Josh Walker, chief strategy officer and EVP of financial planning, WarnerMedia Entertainment.

“We have gathered an all-star team of executives whose innovative contributions have directly advanced the digital media industry,” said Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media.

 

WarnerMedia CEO: ‘My Job is Not to Build Another Netflix’

On the heels of AT&T’s odd corporate decision announcing — in an Oct. 10 regulatory filing by the CFO — the future (Q4 2019) launch of a subscription video-on-demand service, WarnerMedia subsidiary CEO John Stankey rushed out a follow-up statement with few additional details.

Stankey, who was in Los Angeles attending a media conference, said the unnamed and unpriced service would help WarnerMedia expand its reach by offering consumers a new distribution choice for HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner’s collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries.

“We expect to create such a compelling product that it will help distributors increase consumer penetration of their current packages and help us successfully reach more customers,” Stankey said in the statement.

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, Stankey said the OTT video service would be different from existing products on the market.

“My job isn’t to build another Netflix,” he said.

As expected, the executive – who made news earlier this year when he challenged HBO to up its game – said the OTT venture would be spearheaded by HBO with Turner (CNN, TNT, TBS) and Warner Bros. content bundled in.

“Our job is to build a compelling offer of content that gets a large number of customers,” Stankey said.

That apparently includes creating original content for AT&T businesses that include DirecTV Now and pending AT&T Watch.

“We’ll do both within our business,” Stankey said.

 

 

 

 

 

Fubo TV Adds WarnerMedia’s Turner Networks

Fubo TV, the sports-centric online TV service, Aug. 22 announced the addition of Turner Networks portfolio of pay-TV channels, including TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, TCM and HLN. The addtions bring to 75 channels available on Fubo for $39.99 monthly.

“Adding Turner Sports’ programming builds upon our heritage in soccer, while expanding our sports offering with more MLB, NBA, PGA and college sports,” Ben Grad, head of content strategy and acquisition at Fubo TV, said in a statement. “Turner’s news, entertainment and kids brands will continue to drive engagement with viewers, while reinforcing our commitment to offering a premium, high-quality cable replacement.”

Turner’s Boomerang and CNN International are also being added to Fubo Extra, the company’s 90-plus channel tier that is now available at $44.99 for the first month. Additionally, CNN en Español has been added to Fubo Latino.

The above channels are all available to be streamed live, with popular programming to be available on-demand in the coming weeks. All fuboTV subscriptions come with 30 hours of personal cloud DVR storage, two simultaneous streams, and the ability to upgrade to 500 hours and three streams, respectively, with no contracts, cords or set-top boxes required.

The service is available on the Web at www.fubo.tv, and via Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, and TV connected devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.

White House Calls Out Comedian Samantha Bee for Ivanka Trump Insult

The White House May 31 wasted little time criticizing comedian Samantha Bee for calling the president’s daughter a “feckless c**t” during the May 30 opening monologue of her political show, “Full Frontal” on TBS.

“The language used by Samantha Bee last night is vile and vicious. The collective silence by the left and its media allies is appalling,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as reported by The Wrap. “Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast, and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network.”

Bee, who was commenting on President Trump’s immigration policies, opined that Ivanka Trump, as a mother and advisor to her dad, should do more to impact policies that have separated members of the families of undocumented immigrants.

Trump made illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign, calling for the construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out immigrants he claims are flooding across the border from Mexico and Latin America.

Since the election, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have increased rounding up undocumented workers following minor run-ins with the law, including traffic citations.

“Let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices you feckless c**t!” Bee said on the monologue. “He listens to you. Put on something tight and low cut and tell your father to f**king stop it. Tell him it was an Obama thing and see how it goes.”

TBS and Time Warner have not responded publicly to the issue.