- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) - Television's most popular show, the NBC comedy "Friends," is coming back for a ninth and final season. The six actors who star in the show, NBC, Warner Brothers Television and Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions signed a deal Monday to wrap up the series with a final, 24-episode season starting in the fall.
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer will each be paid $1 million per episode for the final season, according to sources close to the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Their contracts, believed to be worth more than $750,000 per episode now, were due to expire at the end of the season.
"We are enormously pleased and excited to be returning for a ninth season," the actors said in a joint statement. "We could not ignore the outpouring of public support for the show."
It was unexpectedly quick, good news for NBC, which had been concerned that negotiations over the series' return would stretch into May, as it had the last time "Friends" was renewed. May is when networks announce their new fall schedules.
"Friends" has drawn an average of 24.5 million viewers this season, more than any other regular series. It has never finished as the No. 1 show for any season in its history, according to Nielsen Media Research.

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