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Wednesday, 11 November, 1998, 11:33 GMT
$1m Christmas bonus for Friends
The Friends cast currently command  $100,000 an episode
The Friends cast currently command $100,000 an episode
Leading stars from the hit television series Friends have asked for their salaries to be doubled to 125,000 ($208,000) an episode next year.

Warner Studio bosses are already rewarding the six actors with bonuses of $1m (625,000) for keeping the show at the US number one sitcom slot.

But these bonuses are reportedly not enough for the six castmates, who are in their fifth season of the series and have just completed their 100th show.

They are looking for a remuneration package similar to that of top stars from the hospital drama ER. ER star Anthony Edwards who plays Dr Greene takes home around 185,000 ($375,000) per episode and last year also received a $1m bonus.

Their request is likely to be granted as Warner Bros have signed the six strong cast for the 1999 - 2000 season and are keen to commit the cast to a seventh and possibly eighth season.

High stakes

This is not the first time the cast have demanded a pay hike.

Back in 1996 the 'Friends' - Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry were engaged in salary negotiations with studio bosses.

They threatened to strike unless they received pay increases - but this time studio bosses want negotiations to be "acrimony-free".

The decision for the cast to renegotiate has come as no surprise to industry insiders.

Friends continues to top ratings, a phenomenal feat for a show which was piloted and broadcast back in 1994 and predicted to not survive beyond a season.

The Friends' salaries have made the show one of the most expensive shows to produce in the world.

According to Variety columnist Michael Fleming, the collective negotiating of the cast will give them added bargaining power.

"They are in a strong position because the show has made a fortune in syndication," he said.

See also:

30 May 98 | Entertainment
Wedding clanger ends in Friends cliffhanger
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