HAVING FUN ON “GRACE & FRANKIE”

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Okay, it’s starting to get real fun on this new Netflix series I’m shooting with Lily Tomlin (Don’t know when it will air–sometime after the thirteen episodes of the first season are finished –and you can start binge watching!). But I want to apologize to my blog readers because I haven’t been writing much. That’s because we shoot such long hours and there isn’t any time and what little leftover time there is, is spent (by me, at least) watching the dailies which takes hours but which is critical for me–that’s how I learn what works, what doesn’t, what I need to do more of or less of and that’s where I get a true sense of what the director is going for.

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We shot some of the second episode way back in the Malibu mountains. Being there moved me a lot because, as I’ve said before, I grew up in these mountains–well, the Santa Monica Mountains, but they abut each other. The slopes and vistas of chemise, chaparral and mountain laurel take me back to my childhood when I would pretend to be an Indian scout and roam for hours at a time, discovering wooded glens (sycamore and live oak) and rocky outcroppings (sandstone). I dread the day when, due to population growth, these lovely mountains will be developed and the critters–coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, etc etc –will have no where left to go.

We are shooting so much fun and exciting stuff, and I have taken lots of photos, but for now I’ll share some photos of some of the folks you don’t normally see.

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Here is the ‘video village’ where the behind-the-scenes VIPs gather to watch what’s being ‘filmed.’ This group usually consists of the director (which changes with each episode, something I’m having trouble getting used to), the show runners (co-creators, main writers and executive producers Marta Kauffman and Howard Morris); Marcy Ross who is in charge of television for Skydance, the company started by David Ellison to develop and finance projects–often very big feature film projects like “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “World War Z,” “Ghost Protocol,” and “True Grit,” before they take them to studios for distribution; the writer/s of the episode we are currently shooting; other of our producers and various assistants. It’s funny to me that I’m just getting used to the whole idea of a video village whereas our younger actors have never known anything else–never known, for example, when more expensive film was used and only the takes considered best were printed to be watched on a screen the next day instead of every single bit of digital ‘film’ shot is sent to our computers to be watched whenever we grab a free moment. The young’uns will never known the feeling of a director standing right next to the camera determining with his (alas, almost always men) eyes what was good. Here’s the video village when we were in the mountains. Marta is on the right, chin on hand. Then Marcy, Jeff Freilich.

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It feels nice to be back at Paramount. Many, many decades ago I made a number of films there including “Barefoot in the Park,” so you can imagine I have fond memories–especially since I had a crush on Redford—on each of the three films we did together.

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With Director Scott Winant.

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Lily took this one. Tulea sort of morphs into a ’50s purse, don’t you think?

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Director Bryan Gordon, and Cleta Ellington.

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Dave Hadder, who holds the boom mike–a really hard job as far as I can tell. It’s long and heavy and he has to hold it aloft sometimes for extended periods, making sure it never drops into the shot.

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Bonita Dehaven, who does Lily’s make up.

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Striking a pose is Allyson Fanger our costume designer.

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Between Cleta and Jane is Jeff Freilich, one of the producers who is always on set. He’s been at it a long time so we have a lot to talk about. Ie: “remember when homes in Malibu rented for $300 a month?’ etc

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Right to left: Jane Forbes, script supervisor, who makes sure what we do from take to take matches. Behind her is Cleta and then the very cool Fame Hughes, who takes care of the costumes.

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(above) Justin Browne, Camera B operator who also carries the steadicam–also very hard work. A steadicam means the camera is carried it on his shoulder. It is used for shots that require moving through small, narrow or complicated spaces that would be too hard and time consuming to shoot with a regular camera rolling on a dolly track.

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Chris (the Murph) Murphy, Camera A operator (we usually are shooting with 2 or even 3 cameras at a time)

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Video village outside the Trancas Market.

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Watching dailies on my iPad between takes with Tulea.

It may be awhile before I get to blog again about “Grace & Frankie.” Next weekend I fly to the Toronto Film Festival where “This Is Where I Leave You” will premiere and I’ll meet up with Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, our director Shawn Levy and my BFF, producer Paula Weinstein, who bought the book years ago and worked diligently to bring it to fruition for Warner Brothers. It’s a good film, let me tell you. (And Paula is also an executive producer on “Grace & Frankie.”) I will for sure blog from Toronto so stay tuned. It will be a grueling 2 days of back-to-back interviews, press conferences and post premier parties, but I believe in the movie so that helps. I did nothing exciting over Labor Day weekend except rest and try to stay healthy in preparation for Toronto. Well, I did work out each of the 3 days and wrote this blog. I find doing a TV series is a little like doing a Broadway play. You think you’ll get so much done during your down time but, truth is, your energy is so thinned out all you can do is rest and take walks.

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19 Comments
  1. Sorry for starting with this, but darn, you look especially hot in that last picture. 😀

    Anyway… I’m so excited about this series. I hope this will be the one to beat Modern Family at the Emmys. 😛 I’m sure you will be amazing in it and I’m crossing my finger that it comes ASAP. Personally, I prefer to see my tv shows week after week (not a fan of binge watching, but I’ll probably make an exception here). We would have to wait less for this one if that was the case. Working on a tv show must mean grueling hours and I get that being a series regular is a new experience to you, it’s totally understandable that we get less from you on the blog. BUT it means that we’ll get more from you on our screens so I’m happy about this situation. And the fact that This Is Where I Leave You is soon to come makes it easier to wait for Grace and Frankie.

    BTW, how is the tone of Grace and Frankie? Is it an all-around comedy or more of a ‘dramedy’? Anyway, I always love it when you do comedies, I adore your comedic work and I’m kind of stunned at the fact that you don’t seem to be a fan of your work in Any Wednesday, which, in my opinion, is one of your best performances (no kidding). I love how you balance silliness with your gigantic star power, but also inject lots of humanity to that part (and your line deliveries are brilliant; I love the subtle irony when you say “Are you ambitious? Because I’m not!!!”). You truly elevated that part. Not sure how I got here from you looking great and binge-watching shows, but you are used to it coming from me. Peace out! XOXO 🙂

    • Daniel, it’ll br sorta like what you said you liked 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing these photos, Jane. I love behind-the-scenes shots! And, yes, Tulea does a great ’50s purse im-“purse”-onation! 🙂
    Rock on,
    Melissa

  3. Hi Jane,
    Looks like things are going well with the show. As you mentioned, it seems that much has changed in your industry over the years to make it all happen now. But one thing I notice in your pic’s that hasn’t changed is the design of the “director’s chairs”. Hopefully those iconic pieces will remain a staple for many more years to come.
    Enjoy yourself. It’s got to be fun and sometimes funny to think this is how you make a living. I work for a tv network and often I forget that many of my friends there are considered “star’s” to others.
    Stay safe and have a blessed day my southern sister. (You are definitely part of the south: 1) based on the # of years you lived here/there; 2) you actually said “bless their heart” in one of your blog posts.
    Ya’ll have a good day!

    Patsy

  4. Oh, I love Corey Stoll! I really liked him in House of Cards and then later on in The Normal Heart (even though it was a small role) and recently I discovered that he was also in Midnight in Paris! It’ll be interesting to see where his career is going, I hope in a good direction, of course with you in your movie which I’m really excited to see, but also he’s going to be in the a new Johnny Depp movie, yes?

  5. Thanks for the “behind the scenes” tour. So glad to see you posting again, hope you’re having fun! Atlanta misses you!

  6. Greetings Lady Jane!
    I am going over to look at those mountains this month. I have to see Dave Mason at Pepperdine in the Smother Brothers Theater on the 17th. Just thought you need to know. Hope you are having fun with your new project. Don’t work too hard!

  7. With all of those paintings about on the G&F set, it does make me wonder which character handles the brush. Your energy is amazing to me…you’re blessed with good genetic material. So many hard workers.. all with a role to make it a series look effortless for us at home watching on TV. Enjoy Toronto. I have to say the movie looks fun based on the TV ads running lately. I also look very much forward to Youth when it comes out. Saw Tulea’s ‘performance’ on your Facebook page… yikes.. quite the bicep curl going on there! 🙂 Take care Jane… (Just why do they use different directors in a series? Union laws? You’d think it could off set the flavor of the series… knowing it does not do so. really)

    • Frances. It’s late. I’ll try to remember to answer your question about different directors. xx

  8. I love that you show pictures of the behind-the-scenes folks. It is going to be a fantastic show!
    I have always wanted to go to the Toronto Film Festival . . . . only a short 5 hour drive from me, so I went online to see if any tickets were available for your movie premier. Nope, sold out. Sigh. That would have been awesome. Enjoy, but I am sure it is a lot of work for you.

  9. Question: On a busy day, what do you eat and/or drink to keep your energy going?

    • I drink water and Propel and eat fresh vegetables, fish, chicken, occasionally red meat.

  10. I think you are so wonderful. I don’t go to any other “famous” person’s web page, so maybe you aren’t the only famous person that invites us into their life; but it wouldn’t matter anyway. You don’t feel like a famous person, and I love that. I’ll be sending a letter soon…

  11. Hi Jane,
    I agree with Daniel P. I love Any Wednesday. I love those kind of films you made in the 60s. Sunday in New York etc. I love the two sides to your acting. The really belly laughing comedies but also I would never like to miss out on your dramatic acting e.g some of your scenes in Julia, for instance are so gripping, especially the train journey with the hat box. Everytime I watch that I forget to breathe.

    I’m so so happy that we are getting to see much more of you at the moment.
    Take care
    Jason

  12. Hi Jane. My name is Carrie Bailee. And here’s hoping you see this! I love you and everything you stand for. I watched your video for One Billion Rising when you spoke of your mother’s abuse. It was around the time I decided to go public with my lived experience in the hope of becoming a voice and point of light for those who have been silenced and left in the dark as a result of sexual abuse. Here is my spoken-word poem; SOLD.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs_sPq2Tado&feature=youtu.be

  13. “You think you’ll get so much done during your down time but, truth is, your energy is so thinned out all you can do is rest and take walks.”

    Ah! So I am not alone in experiencing this. I only work three days a week, mind you, in the local news office, but I thought with four days a week off I’d be full of p&v when at home. Not the case! Lots of resting and walking is exactly what I do, too.

  14. Jane, I am eager to see this new show and know it’ll be a binge watch for me! As a woman who learned after 30 years of marriage that my husband had been actively pursuing his same sex attraction for decades, I am hopeful you and the other amazing professionals involved will be able to capture the many facets of mixed orientation marriage. Because you and Lily Tomlin are the title characters, it seems to me this will have more meat on it than Fran Dresher’s full out comedy did. The journey after (and before) disclosure was and is sad, enraging, and heartbreaking; but it’s also filled with humor, compassion, love, and (for some) forgiveness. It’s an amazing journey. For the sake of the 10% of married women this affects, I am praying that Grace and Frankie gets it right and is a big, big hit. (I know YOU and LILY can do it, let’s see if the script and direction can deliver!)

  15. I really like your movie Julia but people don’t seem to talk it about it much. I wish you could do an audio commentary on a DVD. Do you have any thoughts about it? I know the story was not really about Lillian Hellman, but it’s such a great story and the look of the film is timeless. Does it bother you that it wasn’t true or do you even like it? I think it’s great.

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