Friday, May 4, 2012

SO NO ONE TOLD YOU LIFE WAS GOING TO BE THIS WAY [CLAP X 4]:  An oral history of Friends in which David Schwimmer doesn't come off as being as big of a douchebag as he usually does.


  1. That quote from Dick Wolf was awfully odd. WTF do I care what Dick Wolf thinks about Friends? Are we really concerned that NBC couldn't eat because of the outrageous demands of the Friends cast? Sure, it's a lot of money, but I don't find NBC the more sympathetic party in contract negotiations.   

    1. That Wolf quote is at least ten years old. That's just the way they edit oral histories; I saw the same sort of mixes on the SNL and ESPN oral histories.

  2. 1.  Maybe slightly less of a douchebag, but still, that is not a flattering piece for Mr. Schwimmer.  (Though he comes off better later in the article when it becomes clear that he could have asked for more money than the rest of the cast but pushed for the "everyone paid the same" structure.)

    2.  I'm always fascinated by the alternate possibilities discussed in articles like this--Craig Bierko as Chandler?  Janeane Garofalo or Nancy McKeon as Monica?  Jami Gertz as Rachel?

    3.  Interesting that neither Perry nor Aniston apparently participated--wonder if there's some sort of weirdness there.

    I have the book in my Amazon shopping cart, and it'll be part of my next order.

  3. Meghan11:39 AM

    I still think David Schwimmer sounds like a douche.  It's hard for me to remember that he was the first to get movie options because I thought Ross was such a douche, I think Schwimmer is a douche, and his in-front-of-the-camera movie career was kind of shortlived.  At least to me, it was. 

    But the recurring theme of Shakespeare in the passage linked--my goodness.  I know they're not saying Friends was on par with Shakespeare but let's quit invoking the Bard.  It just doesn't seem right.  Ross and Rachel were no Beatrice and Benedic.  Again, maybe it's my distaste for Ross coloring this, but please.  No.

    Of course Matt LeBlanc didn't want it to end.  He knew he was typecast as the Dumb Guy from there on out.  That he's moved into another role successfully is amazing.

  4. isaac_spaceman1:08 PM

    Rejected Dick Wolf quotes from the article:

    DW:  If it were up to me, the maximum amount of time you could be a Friend would be something like four years.  After four years, I think people get tired of you. 

    DW:  The only exception to my four-year rule is that maybe one of the Friends could be elected Head Friend.  Like it would be Chandler, Head Friend, and at the end of the show all the other Friends would come meet him in his office and he would give them advice about how to be a Friend. 

    DW:  But other than that, I think that rotating the cast keeps it fresh.  By the end, I think, they could have had some great stories, really different ideas, with different friends. 

    DW:  Like it could have been, say, Monica Keena, Nick Cannon, one of those Scientologist brothers, what are their names, you know, from the show with that Black Swan doll, also a skinny brunette, and say Paul Sorvino.  Pauly owes me a favor. 

    DW:  Because it's not about the characters, it's about the stories.  The romance is the character.  People don't care if it's Ross and Rachel or Paul Sorvino and Rachel.  Write that down.

    DW:  I always thought that Phoebe girl was a lesbian.  I really did. 

  5. isaac_spaceman1:13 PM

    "Movie roles."  Yeah, my recollection is that he did one called The Pallbearer and followed it up with Breast Men, which sounds like an 80s-style getting-some comedy but which is actually more like, I don't know, Apocalypse Now except with breast implants instead of Vietnam and bad acting instead of LSD. 

  6. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Man, I love Matthew Perry's weird career history.

    <span>One of the first actors on our list was Matthew Perry to play Chandler, but he was doing a show called </span><span>LAX 2194</span><span> [a Fox pilot about baggage handlers in the year 2194]</span>

    Tell me you wouldn't at least give that pilot a try. (Especially since it also had Ryan Stiles.)

  7. KCosmo's neighbor1:20 PM

    I saw the Pallbearer (me and the other person who saw it). I don't need to tell you how bad it was. It seems he's been the least successful Friend since the show ended. Am I right?

  8. I don't know how much of that is him not getting offers v. him wanting to be a "serious actor" doing theatre--as I understand, he's done a lot of theatre in Chicago, has made plenty of money off the voice work for Madagascar, and directed a couple of films (Run Fatboy Run is actually pretty good, though that may be more due to Simon Pegg and Michael Ian Black than anything Schwimmer did).

  9. Joseph Finn1:53 PM

    I don't know....after the stories I've seen in the article and in other places, and noy just by Schwimmer, I can see why he comes off as defensive and wary.  That's some scary "my life is now completely not my own" stuff there.

    That said, I'm biased since I've always been a huge fan of Lookinglass Theatre.

  10. Schwimmer also directed the Clive Owen movie "Trust." I'm no Schwimmer fan, but I thought the movie was pretty good. But I suppose that could be attributed more to the cast of Owen, Catherine Keener and the actress who played their daughter.

    Regardless, Schwimmer is my least favorite Friend and does not make the short list of celebrities I'd ever consider being friends with in real life. He's like the anti-NPH.

  11. isaac_spaceman3:32 PM

    Schwimmer was also great in Band of Brothers, though in that he played a miserable asshole, so, uh ...

  12. KCosmo's neighbor4:24 PM

    After my last post i went to IMBD and was reminded of Madagascar and Band of Brothers. His voice is perfectly suited for his Madagascar character--or I've grown to associate his voice with the character (which I guess just happens after a while), so I'll give him that much. As for Band of almost bothered me that he was in that series because wasn't part of the draw of that series that the actors were somewhat unknown at the time? He was fine in the role that he played, but I don't think he was the only actor that could have played the role well. That's all I'm saying. It was an amazing series, with or without him.

  13. isaac_spaceman8:34 PM

    I didn't have a problem with Ron Livingston in BoB, or, for that matter, the kid who played Perconte, who I knew from the Peter Engel show USA High.  If there's anything more jarring than a guy going into a prestige project like Band of Brothers after being the Screech substitute on a Peter Engel show that couldn't even find its way onto TNBC, I don't need to know it.  So I didn't care about whether they were unknown or not -- I cared about their performances.  There wasn't a performance in that show, Schwimmer's Sobol included, that wasn't dead-on. 

  14. My recollection is that David Schwimmer was indeed the breakout actor and Ross the breakout character after that first season. But he used up a lot of his capital with that Pallbearer movie. Once that flopped, his star (as far as movies are concerned) faded. It's interesting to look back now and think at the time that Schwimmer was the bigger star in that movie's Schwimmer-Gwyneth Paltrow pairing.

    For the record, I thought Schwimmer came off very well in that story.

  15. Anonymous9:29 AM

    And, as with the success of much of Schwimmer's career, you salute the rank, not the man.

  16. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I absolutely loved Trust and thought it was very well-directed, with some interesting choices and a delicate balancing act successfully managed given the content.

  17. I didn't like Schwimmer in BoB. And I thought he was off in Curb Your Enthusiasm, though that was an off-key season overall.