David Schwimmer has issued a public apology to actress Erika Alexander after appearing to snub her series Living Single in a discussion about TV diversity during the height of Friends' popularity.
The hit sitcom, which turned Schwimmer and castmates like Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox into household names during its run from 1993 to 2004, has become a hot topic of late amid criticism of the show's lack of casting diversity.
The actor was quizzed about the subject in a recent interview with Britain's The Guardian, in which he revealed he lobbied producers to have his character, Ross Geller, date women of colour, and suggested, "Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends."
However, his remarks didn't sit well with Alexander as she pointed out such a show had already existed - Living Single, which was also set in New York and co-starred Queen Latifah, had aired for five seasons from 1993 until 1998.
Schwimmer has since taken to Twitter to respond to the backlash and clarify his remarks about alternative versions of Friends.
"Hi Erika. As you know, I was asked recently in an interview for The Guardian how I felt (for the thousandth time) about a reboot of Friends immediately following a conversation about diversity on the show, and so offered up other possibilities for a reimagining of the show today," he explained.
"I didn't mean to imply Living Single hadn't existed or indeed hadn't come before Friends, which I knew it had."
Schwimmer went on to suggest his comments had been "taken out of context" and spun up in the media to make something "provocative", before weighing in on longrunning claims indicating that the then-president of U.S. network NBC, Warren Littlefield, had given Friends the initial go-ahead after becoming a big fan of Living Single.
He continued, "To my knowledge, Friends (which came out a year later) was inspired by (creator) Marta (Kauffman) and David (Crane)'s own lives and circle of friends living in NY in their twenties. If it was based on Living Single you'd have to ask them."
"It's entirely possible that (producers at) Warner Brothers and NBC, encouraged by the success of Living Single, gave the Friends pilot a green light. I honestly don't know, but seems likely! If that's the case, we are all indebted to Living Single for paving the way."
Wrapping up his Twitter posts, Schwimmer offered an olive branch to Alexander, concluding, "I assure you I meant no disrespect."
Alexander has since responded to Schwimmer online, inviting him to join forces in the fight for more diverse entertainment onscreen.
"we are committed to the change you'd like to see. Come meet us, let's all be - 'friends,'" she replied.
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