Catching Up With Lisa Kudrow and 'Friends'

Lisa Kudrow has received acclaim for her improvisational, comedy web show.

June 16, 2010— -- "Friends" made its mark in sitcom history, dominating television for a decade. But since the hit NBC show ended six years ago, most of the "Friends" ensemble has faced an uphill battle reaching the same pinnacle of success.

"'Friends' was a hit immediately," said Lisa Kudrow, who starred as Phoebe Buffay on the show, and recently sat down with "Nightline's" Bill Weir for an interview. "It's almost like we kind of ruined it, in a way by hitting so fast, that that became the new standard."

The women of "Friends," including Kudrow, Courteney Cox, and Jennifer Aniston have cultivated noteworthy careers since the show ended, while their male co-stars, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry, appear to have had a harder time finding work and staying in the spotlight.

There has been speculation that the "Friends" cast will reunite on the big screen, but there is still no official deal. Until then, ABC News looks at what they've been doing since the show wrapped.

Lisa Kudrow

The quirkiest member of the "Friends" cast has followed her hunches in the years since the show went off the air.

Her latest gig is a comedy web series, where she plays Dr. Fiona Wallice, a psychiatrist who listens to exasperated people's neuroses in the three-minute, improvisational therapy sessions.

"People kept asking do you want to do a web series and my answer was no. Absolutely not. I don't want to do a web series. Why, would we want to do a web series? I don't understand the question," Kudrow said.

It seemed like a silly idea for an actress who spent 10 years at the pinnacle of sitcom success, but "Web Therapy," which started as a lark, now has an iPhone app, a best-comedy Webbie Award, and landed Kudrow a deal with Showtime.

Post-"Friends," Kudrow showed her range in a number of indie films. But it was her first foray back into comedy with the HBO series "The Comeback," that brought the biggest sting of her career.

Kudrow, who was also a writer and producer of the series, starred as a has-been sitcom star, trying for a comeback. Though she earned an Emmy nomination for her role, the series was cancelled after just one season.

"I didn't take it personally...I just felt injured that you have no control over perception and the perception was, 'Oh, so you failed. You tried to do your own series and it failed,'" Kudrow said.

What Have the 'Friends' Been Doing?

But Kudrow has bounced back: "Web Therapy" is one example and the show "Who Do You Think You Are," which takes is a different celebrity on a journey to trace their roots each week, is another. Kudrow was so moved by the British version that she bought the rights, brought it to America, and set off on her own voyage of discovery, tracing her roots back to Belarus. She learned how her grandmother's village was destroyed by the Nazis and met long-lost relatives in Poland, who recognized her from "Friends."

"[My uncle's son] said, 'I can't believe Phoebe is in my living room and not on my TV,'" she said. "They didn't ask me to sing Smelly Cat, so that was nice."

Jennifer Aniston

Post-"Friends," Aniston has had her share of box office hits, "Marley & Me" and "The Break-Up," and romantic comedy misses, "He's Just Not That into You" and "Rumor Has It." She has successfully made the leap from the small to the big screen and has frequently made Forbes' lists for her fame and earnings.

There has been much buzz around her new movie, "Horrible Bosses," where Aniston will reportedly play a sex-crazed dentist -- a vast departure from her "Friends" character Rachel Green. Aniston's rep told People magazine that the role requires "an aggressive sexuality that many folks have not seen from Jennifer on screen before."

For Aniston, it's her personal life that has seemed to eclipse her professional life. Aniston, now 41, has made headlines for posing provocatively on the covers of magazines. When she appeared nude on the cover of GQ in January 2009, she told the magazine she feels more comfortable with herself now than in her 20s or early 30s. "I'm healthier. I'm more at peace in my mind and with my body," she said.

She also seems to have made peace with her breakup with Brad Pitt. After their five-year storybook marriage ended, Pitt began seeing Angelina Jolie. While Pitt and Jolie may or may not be ensconced in domestic bliss, with their six children, Aniston has been linked with several different men, including "Bounty Hunter" co-star Gerard Butler, Vince Vaughn, John Mayer, and model Paul Sculfor.

David Schwimmer

Schwimmer has spent much of the last six years out of the limelight, working with his small theater group, the Lookingglass, in Chicago and trying to launch a career as a movie director.

He has had limited success as a director. His 2007 film "Run, Fat Boy, Run," a British romantic comedy, bombed at the box office, but USA Today said Schwimmer possessed filmmaking finesse "having wisely chosen strong comic material for his debut behind the camera." He also reportedly met his soon to be wife during the making of the film.

In front of the camera, Schwimmer, 43, hasn't seen much action besides guest starring roles on "30 Rock" and "Entourage," where he played himself. Ironically, in the "Entourage" episode, agent Ari Gold tries to steer his career back to television.

But, according to the Daily Mail, Schwimmer has had to return to auditioning for parts, even while being turned down for top roles.

Matthew Perry

Perry, 40, has been unable to find his groove since playing Chandler on the hit sitcom.

His attempts to repeat his "Friends" success on the small screen have fallen flat. His 2006 series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" was dropped by NBC after the first season because of poor ratings. Last year, he tried again to return to television as a radio talk show host in "The End of Steve," but the dark comedy was scrapped after just one episode.

Perry has had equally bad luck on the big screen. In his first film role after "Friends," Perry played a man a chronically depressed man in the 2007 movie "Numb." The film flopped at the box office. His most recent role in "17 Again" was better received, but he played second banana to star Zac Efron.

In the past, Perry has admitted to struggles with depression and alcohol and prescription drug addiction. Production on 2002's "Serving Sara" had to be shut down for three months while Perry checked into rehab.

"Your consciousness has to change and, I was very lucky and smart enough to realize that at that moment, it was life and death time, and movies, acting, dating, sports and everything just have to take a sideline to this," he told Film Monthly at the time.

Courteney Cox

Cox, 45, turned her focus to family following the end of "Friends."

After trying for so long to conceive, she was finally pregnant with daughter Coco when "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry wanted to cast her as Susan. The role went instead to Teri Hatcher.

A few years later, in 2007, she launched her comeback playing a tabloid editor in the FX sitcom "Dirt," which she and husband David Arquette produced. The show was canceled after the second season because of poor ratings. A long guest appearance on the NBC series "Scrubs" led to Cox's current role as a 40-something divorced real estate agent re-entering the dating scene in ABC's "Cougar Town."

"I think Courteney Cox is great at playing the comedy of discomfort," executive producer Bill Lawrence told

Lawrence, who also produced "Scrubs," approached Cox with the sitcom after he heard through the grapevine that she was looking to do comedy again. "She's a fearless comedian."

Apparently, the role couldn't have come at a better time. According to the Daily Mail, Cox had applied for a license to work as a real estate agent in real life too. With the series off to a good start, Cox has intimated that she'd like to have more children. "We're not trying yet. We're revving up the engines," she told OK magazine. "I'm only ready 'cause time's a-ticking."

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Cox said that she would love to reunite the "Friends" cast on the big screen, but is doubtful a movie would pan out.

"I wish we could do that with 'Friends,'" Cox said. "I don't think it's going to happen...a lot of things would have to break just right for it to work. But we've daydreamed about it."

Matt LeBlanc

After his ill-fated "Friends" spin-off "Joey" was cancelled after one season in 2006, LeBlanc, now 42, had few callers.

Four years later, he has finally landed a role on "Episodes," a new Showtime comedy series created by one of the producers of "Friends."

In the new series that spoofs the TV business, LeBlanc will play a version of himself.

"I am so glad I got the part," LeBlanc told The Hollywood Reporter. "Seeing someone else play Matt LeBlanc would have been devastating."

Even so, it hasn't been easy being LeBlanc lately. His marriage to British model Melissa McKnight failed around the time "Joey" did. According to People magazine, the couple was dealing with daughter Marina suffering seizures shortly after birth until she was 2. Then as the couple's third anniversary approached, LeBlanc suddenly moved out and began seeing his "Joey" co-star Andrea Anders. LeBlanc also made tabloid headlines after he admitted to groping a stripper at a Canadian nightclub.

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