LOS ANGELES – Matt LeBlanc (search), star of the NBC spinoff "Joey," confessed yesterday he's still finding it hard to say goodbye to his old "Friends."
"When I first got to the stage, I kept waiting for the door to open and for Chandler to walk in," said LeBlanc, who will reprise his beloved "Friends" (search) character this fall in the Thursday night time slot just abandoned by "Friends."
"Joey" is being shot on the very same Warner Bros. Television set in Burbank where LeBlanc and his five mythical Manhattan pals made TV magic for 10 seasons before finally signing off this spring.
"As the [first week of shooting 'Joey'] went on, I really got comfortable with these new voices there, and it feels like we're going to have a lot of fun," LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc's Joey Tribbiani will be a New York fish out water as he moves to Hollywood to pursue his acting career. The ensemble now includes Joey's sexy sister Gina (played by Drea de Matteo (search), "The Sopranos") and brilliant nephew Michael (Paulo Costanzo).
Executive producer Kevin Bright said viewers shouldn't expect to see any "stunt casting" — guest appearances by former "Friends" — in the rookie season of "Joey."
"The chances are rather small because I think we want our first focus to get 'Joey' working on its own," said Bright, although adding that former "Friend" David Schwimmer will be directing one "Joey" episode.
Show writers have already fessed up to one major structural blunder, having to recast the actress originally set to play Joey's neighbor.
NBC executives said an announcement on the new actress could be made as early as this week. "Joey" producers said they're still tinkering with the role, only promising that the character will still be married, as previously reported.
"We wanted to explore a friendship between a married woman and a single guy," said executive producer Shanna Goldberg-Meehan. "We thought that would be interesting."
LeBlanc said he likes his new co-workers, but still pines for the old days.
"It's like getting a divorce from someone you're still in love with," LeBlanc said of the "Friends" finale. "It's very sad, it's very tough — I could go on for an hour."