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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 12:34 GMT
Friends back for 10th series
Friends cast members David Schimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston
The cast will still earn $1m each, accorting to a report
US comedy series Friends is returning for a 10th season - with all six stars staying with the show.

The deal, struck by the NBC network in the early hours of Saturday morning, brings to an end months of speculation about the future of one of US TV's most popular shows, about the ups and downs of six close-knit friends in New York.

While NBC confirmed a deal had been struck with Warner Bros and Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, it did not release any financial details.

Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow - pic courtesy Channel 4
It had been rumoured the cast were not keen on a new series
But respected trade newspaper Variety claimed that while NBC would pay $10m (6.24m) an episode - an increase from $7m (4.37m) - the pay of its stars would be pegged at $1m per show.

It had been rumoured that Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer were planning to leave after the ninth series.

In particular, Aniston received rave reviews for her part in independent film The Good Girl, and it had been thought she wanted to cut her commitments so she could start a family with husband Brad Pitt.

NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said: "I'm sure this will be final year," although similar comments were made by the network at the announcement of the show's ninth series in February.

Although CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has supplanted Friends as US TV's most popular show, the past couple of years have seen a revival for Friends, which has benefited from strong ratings and good reviews.

It won an Emmy this year for best comedy series, while Aniston won best comedy actress. It also has a Golden Globe nomination for best musical or comedy series.

In the UK, it is one of the most popular shows on Channel 4, which also screens Friends on its pay-TV service E4.

See also:

12 Dec 02 | Entertainment
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