Marta Kauffman Talks Women in Film Special and How They Convinced 'Friends' Cast to Reunite (Exclusive)

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The Friends cast was "all in" to participate in the upcoming reunion special. ET's Nischelle Turner spoke to Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of the beloved sitcom, who revealed what enticed her A-list cast of Jennifer AnistonCourteney CoxLisa KudrowMatt LeBlancMatthew Perry and David Schwimmer to sign on to reunite in an HBO Max special.

"There was a real resurgence of the show, because of the 25th anniversary of the show there was a lot of love... sent out for it," Kauffman, 63, explains. "I think the cast is incredibly grateful and want to give back by doing the special."

The special was initially slated to premiere on May 27, but had to be pushed back due to the coronavirus. While Kauffman previously said that they were hoping to film in August, they plan to wait to do so until a live audience can be included.

"We all want it to happen. We just have to wait until it is safe. This is a show that is not scripted, but this is the way the show works -- we are going to need a live audience. Even if we socially distance that live audience, it really is a huge part of what Friends is... We can not do it without them," she says. "Everyone is all in and we are just waiting for that time when it feels connected to bring in a live audience."

Also affected by the ongoing pandemic was the filming of Kauffman's current series, Netflix's Grace and Frankie, which shut down production of its seventh and final season in March.

"We're not going to be the first production back [because] we have four cast members who are older. They're not going to be the first ones back. We can’t be the ones to make any mistake," Kauffman says of when filming could resume on the series, which stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. "We are hoping that we get to see some other productions and see what works and be able to adapt the way we were going to shoot to these new guidelines... My sincere hope is that we'll be back at work in January."

While fans wait for the Friends reunion and the next season of Grace and Frankie to premiere, they can catch Kauffman, along with many female stars, during Make It Work!, a variety special airing on The CW. Women including Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Garner and Rosario Dawson will participate in the benefit special, which the network is putting on with the help of Women in Film.

"Even before the pandemic, there wasn't equity in the workplace. Women, people of color, there just wasn't. When you look at the percentages, especially in certain positions, there are fewer women than men," Kauffman says. "Women in Film has been a real champion for promoting the voices of women and getting more women in the workplace, but since the pandemic, everything has changed."

"The question is, will women be hired back in a more equitable fashion? We know it's harder... for women to bounce back from a recession, even harder for Latinx and Black women," she continues. "So this is a very important time to raise awareness, and not just in my field. I mean, this is true in every field."

Make It Work! will air on The CW Aug. 26 at 8 p.m. ET.

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