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In new season, 'Joey' to get a black friend, a new house



Published: Thu, August 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



WASHINGTON POST

In a desperate attempt to salvage their ratings-starved "Friends" spinoff, as it prepares to face the most-talked-about new comedy of the fall -- Chris Rock's "Everybody Hates Chris" -- the producers of "Joey" have given Matt LeBlanc's character an actual friend of color.

Miguel Nunez Jr. has been allowed into the exclusive, all-white "Friends" club, playing an actor who becomes Joey Tribbiani's new ... well, friend.

"We missed that camaraderie he had with Chandler and Ross. ... We needed a best friend for him," executive producer Kevin Bright told trade papers, referring to the white guys Joey palled around with on "Friends."

The first season's focus on Joey's family -- specifically, his skanky sister and her smothering and borderline-obsessive relationship with her young-adult son -- were "too narrow," Bright said.

Not to mention creepy.

Also gone is the apartment Joey shared with this nephew. This season, Joey becomes a big acting success, gets a lead role in a summer flick, ditches the apartment (and, hopefully, the nephew) and buys a house.

The role of the show's most talented thespian (Jennifer Coolidge, who plays Joey's agent) is being beefed up; Coolidge will appear in every episode this season.

Drea de Matteo's sister-of-Joey character begins working at the agency, which hopefully means fewer of those Oedipal scenes where she coos over her son.

And Nunez, who starred in the 2002 flick "Juwanna Mann," will be added to the cast, playing an actor who thinks he's better than he is.




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