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Actor Perry of 'Friends' Enters Rehab Hospital

February 27, 2001|PAUL BROWNFIELD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Actor Matthew Perry, co-star of the NBC sitcom "Friends," has reentered an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center, marking another in a recent spate of health problems for the actor.

"Following the advice of his doctors, Matthew Perry has entered an undisclosed rehabilitation hospital," Perry's publicist, Lisa Kasteler, said in a statement. "He appreciates everyone's concern and thanks them for respecting his privacy."

The statement, released Monday, caught both NBC and Warner Bros. Television, which produces the hit sitcom, off guard. The show is in production this week. Officials would not comment on whether Perry's absence would cause any disruption.

Perry is an integral part of the show's direction this season, in which his character, Chandler Bing, is engaged to Monica Geller, played by Courteney Cox.

"Friends" was already scheduled to air several reruns over the next two months.

In a joint statement, NBC, Warner Bros. and Bright, Kauffman & Crane, the production entity behind the series, did not specifically address how Perry's absence would be handled creatively, saying only: "The show will remain in production and original episodes will continue to air as scheduled on NBC."

Perry, 31, had been splitting his time between the "Friends" set and the set of his upcoming Paramount Pictures release, "Servicing Sara," with Elizabeth Hurley.

"Friends," which has been airing in 40-minute installments as part of a February ratings sweeps maneuver, is the No. 1 comedy in prime time, with an average of 20 million viewers per week. Last year, Perry and his cast mates signed to do two more seasons of the series, for an estimated $44 million apiece.

Perry's health has been the subject of rumors before. Last May, speculation swirled in the tabloids that Perry, whose weight has visibly fluctuated over the years on "Friends," was in need of a liver transplant, a claim Perry denied.

The rumors followed the actor's stay at Cedars Sinai Hospital for treatment of severe flu and stomach pains, according to Kasteler. The day he was released from the hospital, he wrecked his Porsche after swerving to avoid another car on a narrow Hollywood Hills street and crashed into a porch. Police said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

In 1997, Perry checked into the Hazelden rehab center in Minnesota to treat an addiction to the painkiller Vicodin, the actor later told TV Guide.

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