'Friends' Finale Bringing Big Bucks

01/20/2004 8:07AM

"Friends" is preparing to set another record, having already scored the highest salaried cast in TV history.

NBC reportedly plans to pocket $70 million from the May 6 finale of the hit sitcom, which will end its phenomenal 10-year run before an estimated audience of 30 million viewers.

Given those numbers, the network has priced 30-second commercial spots during the two-hour finale at a record $2 million, according to New York's Daily News.

The figure represents a new high for an entertainment show, and is just below that of the $2.3 million per 30 seconds charged during Super Bowl games. (By comparison, notes the News, the highly anticipated 1999 finale of "Seinfeld" commanded $1.7 million for 30 seconds of commercial airtime.)

As for the bank accounts of Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer, the stars re-negotiated their contracts last year and nabbed $1-million-per-episode salaries. In the past 18 months each has pocketed an amazing $42 million, the Daily News calculates. And now come the residuals from reruns.

Still, reports the Associated Press, one type of currency the gang shouldn't expect to see is the yuan, as China's government censors have declared that the sitcom -- although wildly popular in the country thanks to pirated DVDs -- is just too sexy for Chinese TV.

"The attitudes of the six close-knit young friends cannot be generally accepted by Chinese audiences yet," China's Central Television's entertainment unit said in a statement.

The show had been set to premiere on Chinese TV this year, but officials couldn't manage to edit out the sex talk.

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