Emmy season is upon us, which means Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are back in the mix with season 2 of “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix. The dramedy was in the Emmy comedy section last year, but it’s a hybrid for sure. In the first episode of the new season, Fonda and Tomlin have a priceless scene with a rabbi (one of the funniest things on TV this year) followed by a wedding scene that is heartbreakingly poignant. All four leads– Fonda, Tomlin, Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen– are at the top of their games.
To recap: Tomlin was nominated for an Emmy last year. Fonda was then nominated for a Golden Globe in for her role as an aging actress in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth.” Tomlin also had a hit movie last year with “Grandma” and two Globe nominations. Fonda has two Oscars. Whew! With “Grace and Frankie” already slated for its third season, she and Tomlin will be working for a long time.
In April, Fonda and Tomlin premiered the first episode (the whole season is on a par with the best of “Brothers and Sisters” or “The Good Wife) at the Tribeca Film Festival in a Q&A moderated by Gayle King.
Chatting, bickering, japing, with one another, the stars fielded questions on aging, women in the industry, careers, lovers. “This is how it is on the set,” they assured a packed audience.
The episodes screened featured the two women coping with Martin Sheen’s character having a heart attack on the eve of his wedding to Sam Waterston’s character. To catch you up, the two men had been married to Grace and Frankie, so they’re all family, so to speak.
Episode 1, Season 2 features a pre-op wedding officiated by none other than Frankie. Speaking about how they got this going, the show runners came and asked them how they felt about working with each other. After all, they co-starred in “9 to 5.” There was no script. They wrote the script after. “We live the scripts,” said Tomlin. “If it says we get friendly, we get friendly.”
“I didn’t get it at first,” said Jane. “Yeah, she thought she was an aging Barbarella,” quipped Lily, and so it went for the next hour. “Grace could not have ended up with someone as perfect as what she needed as Frankie,” said Jane.
What about age? Gayle King is 61, Jane says, “Those of us who have celebrity should just say it. I’m 78. I’m 76, said Lily.”
Lily: We’re on the dark side of 70. You get to play love scenes. I don’t get to have a love scene, said Lily. We get to have DVO, what’s that? Deep Vaginal Orgasm.
Jane: There were no good old days. It’s right now.
Lily, looking back: “Laugh-In” I got famous. Ernestine.
Sam came out to say he thought the women are being cheated as far as pay. They all get the same. But Jane pointed out, we get the back end, which I don’t think the men do.
Gayle asked Jane: What made you come out of retirement?
Lily: That has to do with your marriage to Ted Turner. I was at the nuptial party where you made that speech.
Fonda: It is unusual coming back when you are 65.
Gayle to Fonda: Uou still feel nervous?
Jane: Yes at the end of season one I got an acting coach and went into therapy. If we’re screwed up, it is really hard to act well.
Lily: She doesn’t think she’s funny. I told her we are not doing comedy. We are doing dramatic life.
Fonda: I come from a long line of really depressed people. This one [pointing to Tomlin] has a funny bone. I like to hang around her so I can see through her eyes.
Lily: I feel that about Jane. I got a Klute hairdo well after she let hers grow.
Fonda: Martin is a diplomat, very Hispanic. Sam is very erudite, not since Gregory Peck have I seen that.
Gayle: Jane, how is your love life? [Lily has been with partner/wife Jane Wagner for 45 years.]
Jane: It took me 72 years to realize kindness is a good thing to look for. I am extremely grateful. [Fonda has lived with famed record producer Richard Perry for six years.]
Lily: I had to make up characters. Jane was a star at 19, with pressure on women to have a certain sensibility. I did not have the same kind of battles because I was a comedian. Bob Altman gave me the part in “Nashville” [for which she was Oscar nominated in 1975].
Gayle: Where would you like to see these characters over time? They seem co-dependent. We’d love you to be lovers.
Jane: I’m told she’s a really good kisser. I would like to see Grace not need a man in her life, capable of intimacy, maybe with one of her children. And take care of Frankie.