Paula Weinstein has enjoyed a successful producing career bopping back and forth between quality theatricals (Analyze This, A Perfect Storm) and groundbreaking television films (Citizen Cohn, Truman, Too Big to Fail). Her latest trick in that balancing act comes courtesy of her post as both executive VP of Tribeca Enterprises and EP for the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, which costars her longtime friends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The Tribeca Film Festival’s first-ever Tribeca Tune In program at the 15th edition of the fest that begins April 13 is dedicated to television. Its lineup will include world premiere screenings of a new series by Oprah Winfrey (Greenleaf on OWN), Comedy Central’s Broad City and History’s remake of Roots.
An edited version of Weinstein’s conversation with B&C contributing editor Robert Edelstein follows.
What to you is most gratifying about this new TV tie-in with Tribeca?
I’ve become completely addicted to television as it is now. The level of storytelling is amazing. I remember watching Homeland’s first year, standing up and yelling at my television. And I remember calling the agent and the developer and the creator of Homeland the next day and saying, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m alone in my house, talking back at the set.’ So I’m incredibly excited about [Tribeca Tune In], where I’ll get to sit with all those people I’ve been hanging out with at home for so long.
You’ve worked with Jane Fonda for years. What makes Grace and Frankie special?
This is Jane’s first experience in series television. She hadn’t worked in [15 years], and she walked into the trailer and asked who she was sharing it with, and then walked on the set and when they moved on from her scene, never left ’til lunch. That level of working actor commitment despite being stars is extraordinary. Paul Newman said to me when he did The Color of Money, he went in on his days off and people said, ‘What are you doing?’ And he said, ‘How do I act in a movie when I don’t know what everyone else is doing?’
Your mom was a producer. Is there a moment where you knew it was your destiny?
No, I sort of fell into the work. I worked in the editing room a lot in New York for summer jobs but…my whole life had been about storytelling, and there were stories I wanted to tell. You can’t be the child of a producer and want to be a producer.
Politics has always been part of you—the current state of the campaign must boggle your mind.
Politics has always been the most important thing. I think you can’t have spent the last eight years behaving the way the Republicans have been behaving and saying in code every racist thing that’s unimaginable—and now they have a candidate saying it out loud and they don’t like it. But it ain’t different from what they’ve been saying.
You worked with Robert De Niro on Analyze This and Analyze That and now work with him at Tribeca. It must have been memorable watching him work in comedy.
He’s a brilliant comedic actor, but he’s a brilliant actor; he knows how to find the truth. I became friends with [Tribeca cofounder] Jane [Rosenthal] through that. I had a great time with Jane producing [the films]. I was gonna move back to New York, and she said, ‘Come back and be here and you can still go and do your shows and make your movies.’ It’s just been inspirational to me.