The Paley Center for Media’s “Television: Out of the Box” ExhibitMay 2nd, 2012 | By Lindsay | Category: This and That
Two weekends ago, as the Grim Cheaper and I were making our way home from the Hollywood Show, I decided to peruse through my Facebook newsfeed and just about died when I saw that a fellow stalker named Brittany had posted photographs of numerous Friends props and costumes on display at the Warner Bros. “Television: Out of the Box” exhibit at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. Before seeing the pictures, I had been completely unaware of the new exhibit. And here I thought I had my finger on the pulse of L.A.! As you can imagine, I just about had a heart attack over Brittany’s fabulous pics and begged the GC to take me right on over there that very minute. Unfortunately, because the exhibit closes at 5 p.m. each day and it was already well into the afternoon by that time, I was forced to postpone our excursion until this past Saturday. And, despite some minor snafus which I will get to later, it was worth the wait and I had an absolute blast while there! (As you can see above, the exhibit is interactive and visitors are encouraged to sit on set pieces to pose for photographs, which I, of course, ate right up!)
The Warner Bros. “Television: Out of the Box” exhibit features memorabilia, costumes and set pieces from over 50 different productions, but I was, of course, most excited to see the Friends items, which included (what were said to be) parts of the infamous Central Perk set. I was a bit confused about what the Central Perk couch was doing there, though, as I was fairly certain that the iconic piece was on permanent display at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. When I asked one of the many docents on duty about it, he explained that there were actually four couches made for the series and that they would be swapped out periodically throughout the show’s ten-year run so that no one couch would be overused and appear old or worn onscreen. Which makes sense, right? Well, something felt off about the whole “set” to me and after I returned home I discovered that, according to The Paley Center website, the Central Perk display is actually “a replica”. Which begs the question, why were the docents (who work for Warner Bros. and not The Paley Center) not aware of this fact? (And I am still trying out the GC’s idea of posting the descriptions of my photographs above the photographs themselves. It is extremely foreign to me, but a lot of people seem to like it.)
As you can see below, while similar, the couch on display at The Paley Center is most-definitely not the actual Friends couch. The arms and back of the real couch are much more rounded and have much thinner wood detailing than the “Television: Out of the Box” couch.
As I mentioned above, the actual Friends couch is on display at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. A photograph of it from one of the many VIP tours I have taken over the years is pictured below.
The coffee table featured in the exhibit also does not match the one that appeared on Friends.
Nor does the bench/coat rack that is on display.
Most maddening for me, though, was the fact that a docent had told me to be sure to sit in the green Central Perk chair, as one is not allowed to sit on it during a Warner Bros. tour. Beyond excited over this fact, I sat right down and decided to re-enact the scene in which Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) waves to Isabella Rossellini in the Season 3 episode titled “The One with Frank Jr.”. Needless to say, when I got home and popped in my DVD of the episode and realized it was not, in fact, the actual chair, I was a wee bit peeved.
As you can see below, other than being green and quilted, the chairs in no way resemble each other, which seriously chaps my a** (as Sarah Jessica Parker likes to say). Hmpfh! So while The Paley Center website might call their Central Perk set “a replica”, it is, sadly, not a very good one. It seems that someone went out and purchased random, semi-similar looking furniture for the display instead of having actual replicas made. Not cool, Paley Center, not cool at all.
The actual green chair is on display at Warner Bros. Studios, as you can see in the photograph below, which Mike, from MovieShotsLA, took. The lesson here is this – if you want to see the actual Central Perk set from Friends, buy tickets to a Warner Bros. Studios VIP Tour and skip The Paley Center exhibit.
That all being said, “Television: Out of the Box” did have some cool (what I hope were) actual costumes and props on display. Some of the other Friends memorabilia at the exhibit included Ross Geller’s (David Schwimmer’s) leather pants from the Season 5 episode titled “The One with All the Resolutions” (notice the shirt does not match the one he wore in the episode, though);
Monica Geller’s (Courteney Cox’s) see-through karaoke outfit from Season 9’s “The One Where Monica Sings” [one of Chandler Bing’s (Matthew Perry’s) sweater-vest ensembles is pictured next to it];
one of Phoebe Buffay’s (Lisa Kudrow’s) outfits (I believe the coat was worn in several episodes, one of which was Season 7’s “The One with the Engagement Picture”, although the fringe on the sleeves seems to be missing), as well as one of her guitars;
the turkey Monica wore on her head in Season 5’s “The One with All the Thanksgivings” (the turkey looked so real, it was almost unbelievable!);
Chandler and Monica’s wedding vows (which both appear to have been written by the same person) and wedding rings;
Joey Tribbiani’s (Matt LeBlanc’s) shirt from the Season 7 episode titled “The One Where Rosita Dies”;
and a mash-up of two different outfits worn by Rachel during Season 10.
I originally thought that Rachel donned the schoolgirl-esque ensemble during the final episode of the series, but as you can see, while similar, it is not the same outfit.
Once I realized that it was not the finale outfit, fellow stalker Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, and I went on a hunt to track down the episode in which it was worn. As it turns out, the ensemble is actually a combination of two different costumes. The shirt was worn in the episode titled “The One with the Late Thanksgiving”, while the skirt and boots were worn in two episodes (due to a continuing scene) – “The One with Princess Consuela” and “The One Where Estelle Dies”.
You can see below how truly tiny Jennifer Aniston is. I am a pretty small girl, but I look like an Amazon woman standing next to her costume!
Also on display was Ross’ “Science Boy” comic book from the Season 9 episode “The One with the Mugging” and his laminated “Freebie List” from Season 3’s “The One with Frank Jr.”, which, as any diehard Friends fan will notice, has a glaring mistake on it.
In “The One with Frank Jr.”, Ross’ Freebie List was said to be comprised of the following actresses: 1. Uma Thurman, 2. Winona Ryder, 3. Elizabeth Hurley, 4. Michele Pfeiffer, and 5. Dorothy Hamill. If you’ll remember, Ross removed Isabella Rossellini (#2 above) from his final list for “geographical reasons” and Vanessa Williams (#4 above) was never mentioned at all. I thought that maybe the card above had been made far in advance of the filming and that the script had, for whatever reason, changed at some point, and producers figured that because the laminated card would never be seen up close by the audience, it did not matter that an inaccurate one was being used. After I got home, though, I scanned through the episode to see if the list was ever visible up close and, as it turns out, it was! In the scene in which Isabella looks at Ross’ card, I saw that it was not, in fact, the same one that was on display at The Paley Center.
Just when I was about to lose all hope in the authenticity of the “Television: Out of the Box” exhibit, I decided to check out the scene in which Ross first presented his list to the group and, oddly enough, in that scene The Paley Card was used. As you can see, it does, in fact, have Isabella’s name listed on it, as well as Vanessa Williams’. Why there were two cards made and used is beyond me, but that appears to have been the case.
Other sets on display at the “Television: Out of the Box” exhibit included a Monk’s booth from Seinfeld (which after the debacle with the Central Perk set, I am doubting is even real);
as well as some costumes from the series.
There were also several props and costumes from The Big Bang Theory;
The Ellen DeGeneres Show;
The O.C. (LOVE IT!);
The West Wing;
and The Mentalist, Southland, The Closer, and Cold Case (all pictured below).
And while I took over 150 photographs of the exhibit (no joke!), I obviously could not showcase them all here. Other productions with memorabilia on display include Full House, Family Matters, Supernatural, Perfect Strangers, The Vampire Diaries, and Two and a Half Men. Despite the faux Central Perk set, I had an absolute blast visiting the “Television: Out of the Box” exhibit and cannot more highly recommend it to others.
Big THANK YOU to fellow stalker Brittany for telling me about this exhibit!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Warner Bros.’ “Television: Out of the Box” exhibit is being held at the Paley Center for Media, which is located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. The exhibit will run through 2015 and is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $5 for children under 13. You can find out more information about the exhibit here. Be forewarned, the Central Perk set on display at “Television: Out of the Box” is not the actual Friends set, but a poorly-executed replica. The actual Central Perk set can be viewed on the VIP Tour at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, which you can purchase tickets for here.