Pal Joey

The end of Friends is nigh, but Joey Tribbiani will live on, in his own show.

HOLLYWOOD — It appears one-sixth of “Friends” will return after next season.

Matt LeBlanc, who plays Joey Tribbiani in the wildly successful half-hour comedy about six friends in New York City, will be getting his own spinoff series starting in the fall of 2004, it was announced at the Television Critics Association press tour Thursday.

“Over the evolution of the show, Joey has emerged as the character that America roots for and loves,” said NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker. “Although we continue to love all of our characters equally, Matt is the one who clearly has emerged as the crowd favorite, and I think that people will want to see what happens to him as his life moves on.”

“Joey” will be produced by “Friends” executive producers Kevin Bright, Scott Silveri and Shana Goldberg-Meehan.

“Friends” will begin its final season this fall after nine years on the air. In that time, it has become the No. 1 sitcom on TV, and its stars — David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox Arquette, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and LeBlanc — each make $1 million per episode. Zucker would not say how much LeBlanc will make on “Joey,” but USA Today has reported the actor will be taking a pay cut.

In September 2004, “Joey” will move into the Thursday night slot now occupied by “Friends.”

— Vince Horiuchi

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