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‘Friends’ producer visits loyal fan in Milton

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‘Friends’ producer visits loyal fan in Milton

When “Friends” producer Kevin Bright stopped by to see Lisa Emery on Wednesday, he quickly asked the
‘Friends’ producer visits loyal fan in Milton
TV producer Kevin Bright visited Lisa Emery, a cancer resident at Gateway House of Peace in Milton, on Wednesday afternoon Aug. 3, 2016.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

When “Friends” producer Kevin Bright stopped by to see Lisa Emery on Wednesday, he quickly asked the most important question: “How’s the food?”

Emery is one of two people now living at Gateway House of Peace on Rowland Street, which provides residential care for the terminally ill.

“It depends on who cooks it,” shot back Emery, who had feared going into “panic-shock” when she met one of the people behind her favorite TV show, one she grew up watching in Schenectady’s Highbridge Road area.

“Friends,” whose stars included Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc, aired on NBC from 1994 to 2004, and it remains in the minds of many people among the greatest sitcoms of recent times. The show featured single 20-somethings living in New York City, a lifestyle that looked fun.

“I used to watch it every Thursday night in high school and college,” Emery said. “It’s hilarious.”

She still watches cable reruns on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and has 10 years of shows on DVD. Emery continued to love the show despite a devastating health setback last winter.

The 35-year-old was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. A tumor has filled her chest cavity and for the last three months she has stayed at Gateway House in Saratoga County, a non-profit that provides end-of-life housing and care. She is the youngest resident so far to stay at Gateway House, which opened three years ago near the Saratoga County Airport.

She was referred to Gateway by doctors at Ellis Hospital, and she said she likes its home-like atmosphere. The house has only two residents, but they are served by a team of volunteers.

Bright is related through marriage to Saratoga’s Veitch family, and since 1973 he has spent part of the summer at a house in Greenfield. He heard about Emery’s love of “Friends” from Patty Veitch, his sister-in-law, who is on Gateway’s board of directors.

Bright isn’t currently working in television, but he recently finished a documentary on what happens when a young blind man ages out of government assistance programs.

Wherever he’s introduced, people want to know about his association with “Friends.”

“All over the world I’ve met people where the show has had a big influence on them,” he said.

Emery broke into a smile as Bright presented her with a book about “Friends,” “Friends: The One About the #1 Sitcom.” “Lisa, may your days be full of happiness and comfort. Thank you for being a ‘Friend,’ ” he wrote, with an autograph.

Despite being bed-ridden, Emery continues to work as a regional director of security for Time Warner Cable. She uses a laptop to stay in touch with a region that covers a large chunk of eastern New York.

“I think working keeps me going,” she said.

Like any fan, Emery has her favorite characters. “Rachel and Ross,” she answered without a second’s hesitation.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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