Think of it as the start of a beautiful Friendship. With the sitcom firmly planted in the top 10, both Warner Bros. Television and NBC are looking for ways to exploit the show. ''Friends is on fire,'' says Warner vice president Michael Peikoff. ''And we're going to be developing anything that captures its essence and irreverence.'' Among the planned spin-offs:
The hummable Friends theme song, ''I'll Be There for You,'' is the first single off the Rembrandts' new album, LP, and the cast will appear in the song's video. ''It'll be like A Hard Day's Night, where the Fab Four were playing in a TV studio,'' says the Rembrandts' Danny Wilde.
Warner is launching a merchandising assault: coming soon, everything from calendars to a line of coffees. A Friends companion guide is currently being considered by a number of publishers.
In addition to three unofficial sites that have sprung up on the Internet, the Friends site on America Online is ''our hottest area,'' says NBC veep Alan Cohen. On-line response has been so good that cast member Courteney Cox's publicity photos have been downloaded approximately 15,000 times.
And how does the cast feel about the marketing blitz? ''It would be hysterical if there was a Chandler thermos,'' Matthew Perry says of his character. ''But I don't want to have Friends dolls, because I know what people do to those dolls.''