Lisa Kudrow of Friends fame celebrated 25 years of marriage to French advertising executive Michel Stern in May 2020. Before the Web Therapy star tied the knot, she was keeping company with NBC’s then-rising star of late night.
Lisa Kudrow lands – and loses – a role on ‘Frasier’
When NBC was developing the Cheers spinoff Frasier, execs hired Kudrow to play tough-talking radio show producer Roz Doyle. Yet once the cast started reading the script together, it was clear Kudrow was miscast.
“After the run-through, the only thing that wasn’t quite working was Lisa’s character,” Lori Openden, NBC head of casting, told Warren Littlefield in his book Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. “She had a hard time with long speeches. [Executive producer] Jimmy [Burrows] said she was the only thing that really wasn’t working.”
Firing Kudrow from the show came with an additional difficulty. She had started seeing one of NBC’s up-and-coming late night stars, who probably wouldn’t take kindly to Kudrow’s ousting.
“At the time we fired Lisa Kudrow from Frasier, she was dating Conan O’Brien, who was our rising star,” Openden revealed. “So we also had to break the news to Conan.”
‘Better as friends’, according to Lisa Kudrow
The two comedians had a history of friendship while trying to make it big in show business. O’Brien had encouraged Kudrow to stay the course after she began getting discouraged on pursuing her career as an actor. When the talk show personality was a comedy writer, Kudrow pushed O’Brien to throw his hat in the late night show ring.
“I was very encouraging,” the Friends star recalled in 2013, according to USA Today. “I remember saying, ‘If Letterman’s leaving his late-night show, he’s irreplaceable. So better it be someone we don’t know at all.’ So I thought he should look into it.”
Friendship turned to romance – briefly – for the pair. The Space Force actor revealed they soon chose to keep things platonic.
“He was really smart, really funny, and he thought I was funny,” Kudrow said of O’Brien, according to the New York Daily News, adding they, “found we were better as friends.”
Pals Conan O’Brien and Lisa Kudrow talk about the pandemic
O’Brien recently caught up with his longtime pal via video, where the late night host shared that Kudrow has a strong science background.Apparently, the former sitcom star somewhat anticipated the country’s current health crisis.
“I’ve known you for a long time, and you are the person preparing for this pandemic since the day I met you.” O’Brien said to Kudrow. “You are someone who studied biology, chemistry. You always used to be telling me over the years that a pandemic was coming and you liked to hunker down.”
When asked how she was acclimating to quarantine conditions, Kudrow revealed that she wasn’t experiencing any major changes.
“Adjusting? There was no adjusting,” Kudrow told O’Brien. “It was just how I lived my life. There were days and days where I just never even left my house or went in my car.”
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