"Friends" star Matt LeBlanc back to TV - as himself

LOS ANGELES Sat Jan 9, 2010 9:04pm EST

Actor Matt LeBlanc (R) arrives with his wife Melissa at the 31st annual People's Choice Awards in Pasadena, California in this January 9, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Actor Matt LeBlanc (R) arrives with his wife Melissa at the 31st annual People's Choice Awards in Pasadena, California in this January 9, 2005 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc is returning to U.S. television for the first time since 2006, playing himself in a quirky comic spoof of the TV business.

LeBlanc, 42, who played womanizer Joey Tribbiani in the hit comedy "Friends," is forced to audition for the role of himself in the series "Episodes," Showtime executives said on Saturday.

The show, a co-production with Britain's BBC Two, is about a fictional hit British comedy that is turned into an American sitcom in which LeBlanc is chosen to play the lead in place of an erudite British actor.

Clips of the comedy shown to TV reporters on Saturday showed a graying LeBlanc auditioning for his own part against a room full of leather-jacketed Joey look-alikes practicing his "Friends" catch-phrase "How you doin?"

"I am so glad I got the part. Seeing someone else play Matt LeBlanc would have been devastating," the actor said in a statement.

The show is expected to air on Showtime later in 2010.

LeBlanc's last TV outing was in the "Friends" spin-off "Joey," which took his character from New York to Hollywood. The show ran for two years before ending in 2006.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Todd Eastham)

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