1996 THE CAST OF THE TV HIT SERIES "FRIENDS"Sorry, "Friends" fans, but that so-called "reunion" of the six sitcom castmates isn't really a reunion anymore: One of the main friends won't be there for you.

Matthew Perry will be absent when production starts on the planned tribute to legendary sitcom director James Burrows, which was to have featured several casts of his famous series, including "Frasier," "Will & Grace," "The Big Bang Theory," and the "Friends" crew. Perry is currently in London rehearsing for a new play, "The End of Longing," which is set to begin previews in the coming weeks. The Burrows special -- which is airing on NBC next month -- is set to tape on January 24.

NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt had gotten fans' hopes up earlier this week when he announced at a Television Critics Association panel that the "Friends" gang -- Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Perry, and David Schwimmer -- were set to reunite to pay tribute to Burrows, who helmed many episodes of "Friends" throughout its 10-season run (including the pilot, and the infamous "The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break"). Greenblatt had said that he was cautiously optimistic that he could wrangle the entire cast together to honor Burrows, but was hesitant to call it a sure thing.

"We'd like to get all six of them in the same room at the same time, but I'm not sure we can logistically pull it off," Burrows said at the time.

But on Thursday, a representative for Perry told USA Today that Perry simply wouldn't be able to make it, since he's tied up across the pond (something NBC reportedly knew before Greenblatt's announcement).

"Matthew may tape something for the tribute," the spokeswoman, Lisa Kasteler, told the outlet. "In other words, this is not the reunion people have been hoping for."

You're telling us. Could we BE any more bummed? Then again, this was never supposed to be hyped as solely a "Friends" reunion anyway -- the special is really all about Burrows and his contribution to the television landscape over many decades (including his involvement with classic series such as "Cheers," "Taxi," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Bob Newhart Show," and "Laverne & Shirley"). We suppose now that Perry will be missing, the focus can shift back to Burrows where it belongs.

The special is set to air on NBC on February 21.

[via: USA Today]

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