A Secret Among 'Friends'

Key portions of the final "Friends" (search) episode will be shot without a studio audience to make it less likely anyone will divulge the ending to NBC's wildly popular sitcom, producers said yesterday.

The curtain's set to come down on "Friends" and its remarkable 10-year run on Stage 24 of the Warner Bros. Television lot in Burbank next week.

"We'll just have essential personnel on the set for those [important scenes]," co-creator and executive producer Marta Kauffman told TV critics on the "Friends' set.

The producers promised that their swan song won't radically depart from a typical "Friends" episode, even as they wrap up each character's story line.

"We didn't want to take the show out of the world we know," Crane said. "Hopefully it'll be a really good episode of 'Friends,' but an episode of 'Friends.' "

The cast read the last script for the first time on Monday.

Actor David Schwimmer hinted that his long-suffering character Ross - who pines for Jennifer Aniston's (search) Rachel - will live happily ever after, calling his character's resolution "exactly what I had hoped for."

Actors in the "Friends" cast said they're ready to move on, but sad to lose their on-camera family members.

"It feels bittersweet," said Matt LeBlanc (search), whose character Joey is spinning off into a new NBC sitcom.

Jennifer Aniston said they're all on edge, waiting to burst into tears when the final scene is done: "We're like china, very fragile . . . speeding toward a brick wall."