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Sterling K. Brown and Uzo Aduba flip the ‘Friends’ script with an all-Black cast

Shown is the cast of Tuesday's installment of "Zoom Where it Happens," which will reimagine a classic episode of "Friends."
(Zoom)

2020 hasn’t been anyone’s day, week, month or even year, but “Friends” will still be there for you — in a whole new, socially distanced way.

The beloved NBC sitcom is getting a “Zoom Where It Happens” makeover Tuesday with an all-Black cast portraying the iconic characters for a virtual table read.

Emmy winners Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) and Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”), along with Ryan Bathe, Aisha Hinds, Kendrick Sampson and Jeremy Pope, will play the group of twentysomething New Yorkers immortalized by David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry.

In the remake, Brown will play Ross, Bathe will play Rachel, Aduba will play Phoebe, Hinds will play Monica, Sampson will play Chandler and Pope will play Joey.

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The virtual episode will be hosted by Gabrielle Union-Wade, directed by Salli Richardson-Whitfield and produced by Emmy nominee Stephanie Allain.

It begins streaming today at 6 p.m. Pacific time. Viewers have to register with their mobile numbers and agree to receive ongoing election information from social-impact organizations to watch the performance.

That’s because the remake is the latest in the vote-bolstering “Zoom Where it Happens” series that launched earlier this month with a Black reimagining of a classic episode of “The Golden Girls.”

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“Friends,” although widely beloved, was criticized for its dearth of Black characters during its 10-season run and its unrealistic portrayal of life in New York.

Courteney Cox, who played Monica on ‘Friends,’ is brushing up on her knowledge of the TV show before she and her castmates reunite for a special.

Tuesday’s table read could hopefully address some of that.

The stars will recite “The One Where No One’s Ready” — the iconic, gif-able episode that saw the crew procrastinating ahead of Ross’ big museum function and popularizing the phrase “going commando.” In it, Joey donned all of Chandler’s clothes, Phoebe wore a Christmas ribbon as a brooch, Rachel protested Ross’ nagging with sweatpants and forced him to drink chicken fat to prove his love, and Monica hacked into her ex’s voicemail.

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Tonight’s episode of “Zoom Where it Happens” will see Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King, Alfre Woodard and Sanaa Lathan reenact a classic “Golden Girls” episode.

Tuesday’s table read comes on the heels of Aduba’s triumphant Emmy Award win Sunday and Aniston’s mini “Friends” reunion with Cox and Kudrow, who joked that they still lived together as they were watching Sunday’s “pand-Emmys.” A real, long-awaited “Friends” reunion has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Zoom Where it Happens” is a partnership between the video-conferencing service and Black female artists “to raise awareness, intention and activation around voting rights,” according to a statement from the organization. It will continue reimagining episodes with a rotating cast through election day, aiming “to catalyze voters and amplify the fight for voting rights and electoral justice.”

“We’ve selected popular four-quadrant shows to attract a wide cross-section of potential voters,” Bathe said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to see how many people have embraced the series and are actively motivated to get out the vote this November.”

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Much like R&B stars Brandy and Monica’s recent Verzuz battle, the performances also connect viewers to When We All Vote, the voting initiative founded by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Former couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston join fellow actors for a highly suggestive virtual table read of ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’


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