Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s Off Screen Friendship Led to ‘Grace & Frankie’

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have been friends for many years. Which made their decision to link arms for the Netflix comedy “Grace and Frankie” an easy call for both.

Fonda told the crowd at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday that she gets great joy just by being with Tomlin. “Grace and Frankie” bows its second season on May 6.

“I come from a long line of depressed people,” Fonda said, to a big laugh. Tomlin “has a true funny bone. I get to spend time with someone who’s take on everything comes from a place of funny,” she said.

Fonda and Tomlin demonstrated their rapport throughout the panel that also featured co-star Sam Waterston, and series exec producers Marta Kauffman and Howard Morris and Tulea, a shaggy white-haired dog who spent the panel snoozing next to Fonda.

A few minutes in to the session, Fonda let it be known that Kauffman had promised to pay them $100 apiece every time they made the tough TCA crowd laugh. The Fonda-Tomlin banter — which included a reference by Fonda to Ted Turner as “my favorite ex-husband” — ensured that Kauffman had a big check to write.

“You can see why we wanted to do a show with these people,” Morris joked.

Kauffman was asked whether “Grace & Frankie” was preparing for a “9 to 5” reunion episode with a guest shot from Dolly Parton, who co-starred with Fonda and Tomlin in the hit 1980 movie comedy. Parton shouldn’t hold her breath.

“Season two is not the right time,” Kauffman said.  “I feel like we’re still creating a world, and the world is ‘Grace and Frankie,’ and characters you want to know and invest in. The minute you bring in Dolly Parton — who I love — then it’s ‘9 to 5’ and you’re taken out of the show.”

Kauffman reiterated apropos of the current nostalgic mania for 1980s and ’90s pop culture nostalgia that “there will never be a ‘Friends’ reunion movie.”

Waterston, meanwhile, is likely to be part of any “Law & Order” revival should the much-discussed project come to pass at NBC. Waterston said he’s had a conversation with exec producer Dick Wolf about his willingness to return to the prosecution bench as Jack McCoy — yes, he’s in — but he cautioned that the subject remains in the what-if stage and no formal dealmaking is afoot.

“I’m expecting any day for the rumors to come true, but I’m also expecting them not to come true,” Waterston said.

More TV

  • Orange is the New Black

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Changed TV Forever (Column)

    When Netflix debuted “House of Cards” in 2013, it seemed like streaming was going to mimic premium as we already knew it. The premiere of “Orange Is the New Black” five months later ended that notion for good. Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, the show ostensibly followed Piper (played by Taylor Schilling), a bright but [...]

  • Kian Lawley Starring in Finnish Comedy

    Kian Lawley, Katherine C. Hughes Starring in Finnish Comedy 'Perfect Commando'

    Kian Lawley, who was dropped from movie “The Hate U Give” last year after a video resurfaced of him that included racist comments, has landed a starring role alongside Katherine C. Hughes (“Blue Bloods”) in the Finnish comedy “Perfect Commando.” The series is the latest original for Elisa Viihde’s Aitio streaming service, and will be [...]

  • Chris Hardwick Aziz Ansari MeToo Comeback

    Aziz Ansari, Chris Hardwick's Reemergence Complicate the #MeToo Conversation

    Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix stand-up special “Right Now” marks the comedian’s return to the spotlight more than a year after being publicly accused of sexual impropriety, an allegation that has proved to be divisive, fueling discussions about what is considered consent and what constitutes sexual assault. His isn’t the only redemptive arc forming at the [...]

  • Jenji Kohan with two-time Emmy winner

    Inside 'Orange Is the New Black's' Unlikely Journey to Become Netflix's Most-Watched Original

    Before “Netflix and chill” entered the cultural lexicon, before the streaming platform won its first Emmy, before it started inking deals with major showrunners, Netflix in the early 2010s was testing out a hypothesis about the public’s appetite for premium-quality television shows on the internet. It had recently recovered from the Qwikster debacle — an [...]

  • John Malone

    Liberty Global and Vodafone's $21.5 Billion Cable Deal Cleared by European Authorities

    The European Commission has approved Vodafone’s $21.5 billion deal for a raft of Liberty Global assets in Europe, with conditions attached. The commission had investigated the deal on the grounds that it could reduce competition and lead to higher prices for consumers. It concluded, however, that the deal could go ahead with conditions. These include [...]

  • Harlots

    ITV Takes Majority Stake in ‘Harlots’ Producer Monumental Television

    ITV Studios now has a controlling stake in Monumental Television, the production company that makes Hulu series “Harlots” and that was founded by Oscar-nominated film producers Alison Owen and Debra Hayward. ITV first bought into the company in 2015 and has upped its stake from 26% to 51%. Julian Bellamy, managing director of ITV Studios, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content