×

Norman Lear Award Recipient Marta Kauffman Got Her Start From the TV Icon

As fate would have it, Norman Lear gave Marta Kauffman, recipient of this year’s Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television at the PGA Awards, her first job in television development close to 35 years ago. The result was “The Powers That Be,” which Kauffman created with David Crane and Lear executive produced. The NBC sitcom aired for two seasons between 1992 and 1993.

Like Lear, Kauffman is prolific. In addition to “Friends,” she is responsible for co-creating “Dream On,” “Veronica’s Closet” and most recently, “Grace and Frankie.” During “Friends’ ” 10-season run between 1994 and 2004, the show received 62 Emmy nominations and won for outstanding comedy series in 2002.

When “Friends” came to a close, Kauffman admits that she was in “a state.” “That year David [Crane] and I decided, amicably, that we wouldn’t be writing together anymore,” Kauffman says. “I was also turning 50, my oldest daughter was going to college and I was going through menopause.”

While the time was “scary,” Kauffman ultimately discovered that she could successfully write without Crane and was good at creating and showrunning multi-camera sitcoms and single-camera comedies. Under her Okay Goodnight banner, which she founded with Robbie Tollin and Hannah K.S. Canter in 2015, Kauffman executive produced the 2019 documentary “Seeing Allred,” about women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, and co-created Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin series “Grace and Frankie.”

The show, currently in production on its seventh and final season, has become one of Netflix’s longest-running original series to date. During the show’s run, Kauffman tried her hand at directing, which she says she wants to do more of, and co-wrote 12 episodes with Howard J. Morris. “The thing that I always tell writers is that you have to follow your heart,” Kauffman says. “A show will be better if you are passionate about it.”

More TV

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna Pleads for Equality at NAACP Image Awards: 'Tell Your Friends to Pull Up'

    Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Projected to Win Nevada Democratic Caucus

    Bernie Sanders is now projected to win the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 54% of the delegates with 4% of precincts reporting on Saturday afternoon. Joe Biden is currently in a distant second with 17.8%, while Elizabeth Warren rose to third with 10%. Pete Buttigieg is in fourth place with 8.7%, [...]

  • Lizzo51st Annual NAACP Image Awards, Arrivals,

    NAACP Winners 2020: The Complete List

    The 51st annual NAACP Awards took place Saturday night in Los Angeles with Lizzo being named Entertainer of the Year. Warner Bros.’ legal drama “Just Mercy” nearly swept the top film awards, taking home best motion picture, ensemble, best actor (Michael B. Jordan) and supporting actor (Jamie Foxx). Lupita N’yongo won the best actress prize [...]

  • Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium

    Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium Series 'Herzogpark'

    German media group Leonine has taken international distribution rights to the six-part premium series “Herzogpark,” following a deal with its producers Letterbox Filmproduktion (“Bad Banks”). The rights for German-speaking territories are held by Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. The dramedy centers on four women from Munich’s upscale Herzogpark district, for whom keeping secrets has become a life’s [...]

  • Luna Nera Netflix Italy

    Italy's Women Filmmakers Set to Make Waves

    The Berlinale in recent years has been a prime launching pad for Italian films directed by women, which though fewer in number to their male counterparts, make up a considerable portion of the country’s representation on the festival circuit — Alice Rohrwacher (“Happy as Lazzaro”) at Cannes, Susanna Nicchiarelli (“Nico”) at Venice, and Berlin regular [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content