Matthew Perry wasn’t a total no-show for NBC’s star-studded James Burrows tribute special. The Friends alum appeared via a taped message to introduce the rest of his castmates during the Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows special on Sunday.
In the intro, a scruffy Matthew Perry revealed that he couldn’t join the rest of the cast to honor their show’s famed director because he was in London rehearsing for the play The End of Longing. Perry went on to announce the names of his former cast mates and “actual friends” friends: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer. The group gathered together on stage after Perry’s intro.
While Matthew Perry missed out on the special, which paid tribute to iconic TV director James Burrows’ 1,000th episode of television, his Friends had his back. Host Andy Cohen opened the segment by telling the cast that the world has been waiting for a Friends reunion.
“I just want to speak on behalf of America and say we all love seeing you together. Everyone’s wanted a Friends reunion for so long and it took one man to get you all together,” Cohen said.
But co-star Matt LeBlanc quickly chimed in that the whole cast wasn’t together. In an NBC clip that wasn’t included in the two-hour show, LeBlanc pointed out that Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing on the ’90s hit, wasn’t with them, so it didn’t count as a full reunion.
“Whoa, we’re not all together,” LeBlanc said. “There’s one missing. We wish he was here. Matty, we miss you.”
While the Burrows tribute was originally touted as a Friends reunion, Matthew Perry’s participation was called into question early on. When the initial “reunion” was announced at NBC’s Television Critics Association panel, Entertainment Weekly quoted NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt as saying he together but wasn’t sure if it could be done.
“I’m hoping all six will be in the same room at same time. But I’m not sure we can logistically pull it off.”
Greenblatt clearly knew that Matthew Perry would be out of the country at the time of the taping. Perry’s rep later issued a statement, saying the actor would probably “tape something” for the special.
In an interview last month on The Graham Norton Show, Matthew Perry acknowledged that he wouldn’t be in attendance at the Hollywood gala and explained the Burrows tribute “is not the Friends reunion everybody was hoping for.”
Of course, fans who are still hoping for a full-on Friends reunion may have to settle for what they just had: Five of the cast members in one room and Matthew Perry in a taped segment. The 10-year anniversary of the end of the Emmy-winning show came and went, and Perry has already been vocal about the fact that he would be gun shy about a reunion movie or special. In an interview with ABC News, Matthew Perry downplayed the chance of a real reunion of the Central Perk gang, saying he wouldn’t want to ruin the show’s legacy.
“It would be terrible to do something and have it not be good. It was so terrific. If we did a movie and it sucked, then it would, you know, blemish it.”
In the 12 years since Friends signed off, Matthew Perry has starred on several unsuccessful series, including the short-lived shows Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip, Mr. Sunshine, and Go On. Matthew Perry currently stars on the CBS reboot of The Odd Couple.
You can see the Friends reunion and Matthew Perry’s into in the video below.
[Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]