How Courteney Cox orchestrated that 'Tony Danza' moment with Elton John, Brandi Carlile, and Ed Sheeran
We love a Phoebe Buffay malapropism.
But few are as iconic as her thinking the words to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" are "Hold me closer, Tony Danza."
In honor of the Friends reunion on HBO Max, Courteney Cox shared a video delivering the Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) version of the tune while tickling the ivories of her own piano. As she plays, the camera zooms out to showcase a litany of musical talent, including Ed Sheeran, Brandi Carlile, and even Elton John, huddled around her.
Cox called it "one of the greatest moments of my life" on Instagram. But just how did she get this group of talent to pull it off?
It happened surprisingly organically. Cox has been friends with Ed Sheeran for about nine years, and both he and Carlile were staying at Cox's house to celebrate Carlile's 40th birthday.
"Ed was staying here and he said, 'Do you mind if I have Elton John over for dinner?'" Cox tells EW. "I was like, 'What? Of course, I don't mind.'"
Once John was coming for dinner, it was actually Sheeran's idea to perform and film a version of the Friends take on the song. "He said, 'Maybe it'd be really funny if we do a thing, the Lisa Kudrow 'hold me closer,'" Cox recounts.
So, Cox quickly asked her pal Joel Taylor to teach her how to play "Tiny Dancer" to make this viral moment happen. "It was like 20 minutes before Elton came over, he taught me to play," she says. "After dinner, Elton was like, 'Of course I'll do it,' and then I was playing with Ed, Brandi, and Elton. And Elton had his arm around me, and I was like, I love this moment, but I'm panicking."
She adds, "I thought, 'I can't do this, I'm too nervous. I'll miss every note.' And so, I just started laughing. And he was like, 'What are you doing, why are you stopping?' And I'm like, 'Dude, I only know that part of the song.' It was amazing."
Cox and Carlile were on the phone with EW at the same time while relaying this tidbit and discussing their new collaboration on Carlile's music video. Carlile, who is also an admirer and acolyte of John's, was all too happy to relay to Cox that John "adores her."
"Coming here is going to be a new thing," she tells Cox. "When he's here [in L.A.], he's going to come over."
Carlile also shared that the fun around the piano didn't stop once they were done filming their gag. John took over the keys and played two deep cuts off some of his earliest albums, "The Greatest Discovery" and "I Need You to Turn To."
"No one will ever get to hear him play those things," she gushes. "He won't play that stuff on stage live."
So, party at Courteney Cox's house?