On Tuesday evening, Examiner.com was on the red carpet for Focus Features' star-studded New York premiere of Paul Weitz's latest film "Admission." From the film: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff and Lily Tomlin all walked the red carpet at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13.
Film Synopsis: Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) and Paul Rudd (“This is 40”) are paired for the first time on-screen in the new comedy/drama directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz (“About a Boy,” “In Good Company”), about the surprising detours we encounter on the road to happiness. Every spring, high school seniors anxiously await letters of college admission that will affirm and encourage their potential. At Princeton University, admissions officer Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is a gatekeeper evaluating thousands of applicants. Year in and year out, Portia has lived her life by the book, at work as well as at the home she shares with Princeton professor Mark (Michael Sheen). When Clarence (Wallace Shawn), the Dean of Admissions, announces his impending retirement, the likeliest candidates to succeed him are Portia and her office rival Corinne (Gloria Reuben). For Portia, however, it’s business as usual as she hits the road on her annual recruiting trip. On the road, Portia reconnects with her iconoclastic mother, Susannah (Lily Tomlin). On her visit to New Quest, an alternative high school, she then reconnects with her former classmate, idealistic teacher John Pressman (Paul Rudd) – who has recently surmised that Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), a gifted yet very unconventional New Quest student, might well be the son that Portia secretly gave up for adoption years ago while at school. Jeremiah is about to apply to Princeton. Now Portia must re-evaluate her personal and professional existences, as she finds herself bending the admissions rules for Jeremiah, putting at risk the future she thought she always wanted – and in the process finding her way to a surprising and exhilarating life and romance she never dreamed of having.
Karen Kroner adapted the screenplay from a Jean Hanff Korelitz novel of the same name.
Q: What inspired the script.
Karen Kroner: Well, there was a book written called Admission—and I was fascinated by the world of admissions ’cause I had just gone through getting my son into middle school in Los Angeles, which is a horrific blood sport. And I’m a public school girl, so I wasn’t familiar with that. And somebody gave me the book and said, “It’s a very sad story about an admissions officer who has a nervous breakdown.” And I said, “That doesn’t sound sad. That sounds funny.” And I read the book and saw kind of the comedic potential in the world of admissions, which hadn’t been explored before.
Q: Why is Tina perfect for the lead?
Karen Kroner: Tina is in some way like Meryl Streep in that —we are just reaching into her bag of tricks. She can do so much from comedy to drama—so that the range of going from, you know, very, very funny stuff to very emotional stuff is something you haven’t seen her do before, but that she does brilliantly. And I think she plays very well a woman barreling along, you know, at lightning speed with blinders on. And so, you know, a woman who’s on the wrong path in her life who discovers the right path, and Tina is a person you identify with instantly, so she was perfect.
Q: And can you tell me how you got your start as screenplay writer?
Karen Kroner: Yes. I went to USC Film School and I fell in love with writing.
Q: Have you done anything else like directing or producing, or just writing?
Karen Kroner: I’m producing a movie now with Mark Gordon, but I’m primarily a writer.
Q: What's your next project?
Karen Kroner: I’m doing a movie Charlize Theron that’s a very kind of hard “R” comedy.
Gloria Reuben goes head to head with Tina Fey in the film.
Q: So, tell me a little bit about your character in the film.
Gloria Reuben: Well, Corinne plays Portia’s nemesis. And Corinne thinks that right from the gate—out of the gate, from the get-go, she thinks that she’s the best woman for the job to be the new director of admissions. And so, she’s a little passive-aggressive—not mean. She’s looking out for herself and she has a family to support, and so she’s a little passive-aggressive and she does what she thinks she needs to do to get the job.
Q: So, what’s it like to go head-to-head with Tina onscreen?
Gloria Reuben: I was scared. No, I’m just kidding. No, it was great. It was totally great. She’s, you know, obviously easy and fun and it was great. I had a great time.
Q: What was it like collaborating with Paul Weitz?
Gloria Reuben: Oh, Paul. I love Paul. Yeah, he was so wonderful. I hope we get to work together again. Really good director, really smart. I loved how there’d be a take and you’d see him walk out from behind the cameras and he’d think about it for a while, he was great. I loved it.
Paul Weitz directed "Admission."
Q: What attracted you to this project?
Paul Weitz: Well, I’d have to be an imbecile to not do it, you know, given that Tina Fey was gonna do it and Paul Rudd and Lily Tomlin. So, I just felt so lucky that I was getting the cast that I wanted.
Q: So, what was it like collaborating with all these comedic geniuses?
Paul Weitz:: It was great. You know, it’s certainly a big relief ’cause you know it’s gonna be funny and smart because they’re funny and smart.
Lily Tomlin plays Tina Fey's mother in the film.
Q: What do you love about Tina Fey?
Lily Tomlin: I love Tina because she’s a female who has a real sense of herself, very smart, and self-possessed, singular in her abilities, pushed all her desires—her passions forward, very independent, a wonderful girl.
Q: And the woman you play, the mother, she’s quite an eccentric, she’s quite an independent herself.
Lily Tomlin: Well, she wanted to be. What I loved about the part and what I love about the whole movie is that everybody’s sort of living a fiction and they all have an admission that they come to in the movie that really would’ve made their lives much better if they’d just been—instead of living to some ideal or some other person’s idea of what they should be. And if they’d only been able to be who they were wholly and truthfully, things would’ve gone a lot sweeter.
Tina Fey stars in "Admission."
Q: What did you love about working with Director Paul Weitz?
Tina Fey: He’s just so funny and nice and when you have to spend like 17 hours with someone, it’s great when that person is, like, a wonderfully warm, friendly person.
Q: Your character in this is kinda down and single. Does it remind you of Liz Lemon at all?
Tina Fey: No, because, you know, she’s not single in the beginning. She’s been with this guy for like 10 years and she thinks it’s all going great and then it kinda blows up. I think she’s a lot more together, I have way less hang-ups than Liz Lemon.
Q: Do you think you could be an admissions officer? I mean, you were kinda the boss at 30 Rock. How do you handle that having to hire people?
Tina Fey: Yeah. I feel like having worked at SNL and being one of the head writers, it was almost like being an admissions officer for SNL ’cause I had to read hundreds of submissions and you had the same thing where it’s everyone’s dream job and you kinda feel like one of the gatekeepers of it. It’s a lot of pressure. I don’t know if I could do it at Princeton. Maybe a lower level school.
Q: How do you handle it on 30 Rock?
Tina Fey: You just try to do the best you can and, like, really pay attention to everyone and just try to really respect the process...you don’t half-*ss it. You just, like, really try to remember how much everyone cared about trying to get the job.
Q: Was it nice to explore the world of Admissions in the movie?
Paul Rudd: Well, you know, I didn’t really have to so much in the movie, but my character has a little bit of a strong opinion about all of it. And it’s tricky, I’ve been asked a lot about this and how do I feel about it and it’s hard. There’s only a handful of schools that it seems like so many students apply to and just out of numbers, they can’t accept everybody, even though they’d probably like to accept a lot more than they can. But I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t know if there’s a better way to do it.
Focus Features’ ADMISSION, MPAA-rated “PG-13,” opens nationwide March 22nd.