Not only did Kerry Kohansky Roberts give birth to her first son late last year, she also delivered her “second baby,” as she calls it, “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” Sony’s buzzed-about romantic teen comedy. “It’s been a great year,” Roberts says. “I’ll never forget when (Mandate’s) Nathan (Kahane) called me and said, ‘We’re greenlit,’ and I’m looking down at my tummy and I’m six months pregnant. I was so excited, but I was also devastated, because I knew I wasn’t going to be there for principal photography.”
Just two weeks after childbirth, however, Roberts, a VP of development at Paul and Chris Weitz’s Depth of Field, was back at work, attending to reshoots and post-production. “It was not your ordinary maternity leave,” she quips. “Nick & Norah” was not just another project, either, but Roberts’ personal passion for more than five years: She found the book, hired the writer and the director, and suggested actor Michael Cera well before his “Juno” and “Superbad” credits. “I would stop at nothing to get this movie going,” she says.
Although Roberts attended NYU film school in the late 1990s at the same time as “Nick & Norah” director Peter Sollett, they only met much later. But she was always a fan, she says, and wanted to work with him after seeing his debut, “Raising Victor Vargas.” “I knew very strongly that ‘Nick and Nora’ was the right material for him and thought it’d be a great follow-up.” Sollett agreed, and as it turned out, is eternally grateful. “She taught me how to make a studio movie,” he says, “which was invaluable.”
An eight-year veteran of the Weitz brothers’ company, Roberts considers the duo her mentors. “I’ve learned to follow my heart and trust my instincts,” she says. “They never wanted me to chase every spec, but instead to give 100% on the projects I’m most passionate about.”
Paul Weitz remembers how strongly she fought for “Nick & Nora” in particular. “She was great in terms of continuing to believe in it,” he says. “She invests deeply into the story, the film and the people involved. She really cares, and at the same time, she’s able to take a punch and keep going.”
Roberts is now exec producing Paul Weitz’s “Cirque Du Freak” and his follow-up, “Suck City,” along with several other projects she’s superstitious about discussing. “My goal is to continue to find and harbor projects I believe in and make them happen,” she says, “and be a good mom.”
PROVENANCE: Long Island, N.Y.
INSPIRATION: “I’ve been most influenced by humanist comedies,” Roberts says, referring to the likes of James Brooks, Hal Ashby, John Hughes and Rob Reiner’s 1980s favorites. “Having said that,” she adds, “I saw ‘Amadeus’ for the first time when I was 9 or 10 years old and it inspired me to understand how movies are made.”