Becoming... Showrunner of Friends and Grace & Frankie Marta Kauffman
Marta Kauffman is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television writer, producer, and showrunner behind the hit series Friends and Grace & Frankie. After graduating from Brandeis University, Kauffman got her big break alongside David Crane when their pilots Dream On (1990) and The Powers That Be (1992) were green-lit. The pair then launched Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions with Kevin Bright and became the trio that created the iconic sitcom Friends. In 2015, Kauffman started her production company, Okay Goodnight, with industry veterans Robbie Tollin and Hannah KS Canter. Their first series, Grace & Frankie, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston premiered on Netflix in 2015 and is Netflix’s longest-running original ever. The series has received multiple Emmy and SAG nominations and is beginning production on the seventh and final season. In 2018, the company produced the documentary Seeing Allred, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is currently available on Netflix. Kauffman has received a number of honors and awards including the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in television writing from the Writers Guild of America, the 2016 Outstanding Television Writer award at the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival & Screenwriters Conference, The Kieser Award at the 44th Annual Humanitas Awards, and Variety’s TV Producers Impact Report for consecutive years in 2019 and 2020.
In this episode, we talk about:
• Writing Musical Theater in NY with her writing partner and friend David Crane and making $18,000 a year, before moving to LA and working with Norman Lear
• Behind the Scenes on the beginnings of Friends including why it was important for it to be an ensemble show and fighting for Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston
• The number 1 thing she wants actors to know when they walk in for an audition
• Why the time after Friends was a really hard period and how she pushed out of it
• Her thoughts on the Reunion and why she could never do a reboot
• The incredible story she hasn't able to sell (yet!)
• The misunderstanding that led to the terrific pairing of Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on Grace & Frankie
• Was there Improv on Friends or is there improv on Grace & Frankie
• Why she gets credited for every the theme song of Friends is played
• Working with Netflix as opposed to a Network
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