May 6, 1959
Almost 20 years and who knows how many drummers into their unique career in rock, the surviving members of one of England's loudest bands had reached yet another low point in the spring of 1984. Only two years removed from a disastrous 1982 world tour that not only failed to turn the album Smell The Glove into a comeback hit, but also led to the group's breakup, Spinal Tap now had to suffer the indignity of seeing the Marty DiBergi-helmed behind-the-scenes film of that tour gain widespread theatrical release. Would the numerous embarrassments catalogued in the hard-hitting rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap provoke public sympathy for and renewed interest in the band that Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls began back in 1964 as The Originals? Or would the group behind such familiar classic-rock hits as "Give Me Some Money" and "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" be consigned once and for all to obscurity? In this atmosphere of uncertainty, Spinal Tap elected to go back to their roots, kicking off a tour of small American rock clubs with an appearance at New York City's legendary CBGB's on May 6, 1984.
Preceded by a maelstrom of hype and publicity, the hour-long Friends finale drew approximately two-thirds of the audience garnered by the finales of two other long-running sitcoms, Cheers (80.4 million) in 1993 and Seinfeld (76.2 million) in 1998, according to a Fox News report. The most-watched TV series finale ever, M*A*S*H, was viewed by some 105 million people when it aired in 1983. According to the New York Times, NBC charged advertisers an average of $2 million for every 30 seconds of ad time during the finale--a record amount for a sitcom and only $300,000 less than what CBS charged during that year’s Super Bowl.
In the finale, the long-running on-and-off relationship between Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), which over the years included a drunken Las Vegas wedding and a baby, Emma, born in 2002, ended as most of the show’s fans hoped: They got back together, presumably for good. Meanwhile, Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courtney Cox-Arquette) had become suburbanites and parents of twins, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) was married, and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) was headed off to L.A. to pursue his acting career. (A spin-off sitcom, Joey, followed LeBlanc’s character to Hollywood; the show failed to attract a significant audience, and was canceled in 2006.)
Throughout the show’s run, its six stars maintained a famously unified front, ensuring that no one of them emerged as a dominating force onscreen and even negotiating their salaries together. In the spring of 2000, each member of the cast signed a two-year, $40 million contract that netted them each a staggering $1 million per episode. Broadcast in some 100 countries, Friends continues to earn good ratings for its syndicated rerun episodes.
May 8, 1984