Saturday, January 19, 2019

Stars, Acting, & Awards Season: An Interview with Katharine 'Kat' Kramer

By Ann Baldwin

Katharine ‘Kat’ Kramer is an accomplished producer, actress, singer, dancer, journalist, activist, and the Vice President of KNK Productions, Inc. and The Stanley Kramer Library. She founded “Kat Kramer’s Films that Change the World” to showcase motion pictures that raise awareness of important social issues. She follows in the footsteps of her late father, the legendary producer/director Stanley Kramer, who was known for taking artistic and financial risks by making movies about controversial subjects. 
Kat Kramer
Kat has appeared in such films as Going Shopping, Hollywood Dreams, What Just Happened?, and Little Fockers. She currently Co-Stars in the upcoming Season 5 of the popular web series Child of the 70’s. Kat has headlined at Awards shows and Galas for such luminaries as Shirley MacLaine, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. She is a former Miss Golden Globe and proudly serves on the Advisory Board of the prestigious LA Press Club. Kat is the Godchild/Namesake of screen icon Katharine Hepburn and the West Coast Representative of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.
I had the opportunity to catch-up with Kat and chat with her for our 3rd interview, which I’m grateful. We’re at the beginning of Awards Season and Kat as a long-time Hollywood insider, always has a unique perspective, the current pulse on what’s happening, and helpful words of advice for those pursuing a career in the film industry.

Ann: What are some of your favorite films from 2018 that you’re rooting for during this awards season and/or which ones do you predict will win the most awards? 

Kat: There are so many, Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse, Dumplin', Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, BlacKkKlansman, On The Basis Of Sex, Cold War, Boy Erased, Girl, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Wife, Mary Poppins Returns, and A Star Is Born, since I'm a musical performer at heart, and many documentaries such as Quincy, RBG, Free Solo, and Jane Fonda In Five Acts. I can't predict which ones will win. There are many award shows over the next couple months and Oscar nominations are announced on January 22nd. I did predict Rami Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody would win at the Golden Globes. Sam Elliott makes his scenes work in A Star Is Born like he always does.

Ann: You’ve grown-up in Hollywood surrounded by the most talented actresses and actors in film & TV, is there anyone you haven’t met that you’d like to meet one day?

Kat: Well, I was born in Hollywood, but grew up in the Seattle area and New York City. I moved back after having been a child performer and met all of my idols, which makes me very lucky; mostly music idols. I did meet the late David Bowie very briefly, but didn't have a chance to meet him properly, so that was a loss. Would have liked to have met Aretha Franklin. I would like to meet Rami Malek as I haven't had the chance yet, even though he was at the Golden Globes a couple weeks ago. His performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody is brilliant, so that would be my current wish.  
Lily Tomlin & Kat Kramer
Ann: How many acting classes do you think you’ve taken, during your acting career, and what is one of the most important things you learned through your training that had a strong impact on you?

Kat: Well, I aspire to be a triple threat; I’ve been trained in acting, singing, and dancing with many different teachers. As for acting, I always rely on my own method when approaching a role. But, the late Herbert Berghof told me, "Use your imagination;" I always follow that advice.
Ann: Do you prefer acting roles in comedy or would you like to perform more in serious dramas?
Kat: I prefer both. They are the same in the sense that you have to work from a place of truth.  I have recently done comedic and dramatic roles. Sometimes a black comedy or dramedy requires both comedic and dramatic skills. Musical theatre is primarily acting, but incorporates music and dance. 
Ann: Can you share the names of one female actress and one male actor whom you’d love to work with in a film?
Jane Fonda & Kat Kramer
Kat: There are so many from different generations, I couldn't begin to list them all. Right now for actresses, I would have to say my performing idol and Kat Kramer's Films That Change The World Ambassador, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda. As for actors, way too many to list. Definitely Gary Oldman, who I’ve always believed in and I campaigned for him to finally win an Academy Award for Darkest Hour last year, and Sean Penn, who is also a filmmaker as well as an actor. 
Ann: Your mother, Karen Sharpe-Kramer, was a successful actress who worked with some of the top actors in her day, what is one thing she taught you that helped you in your acting career?

Kat: My mother is my manager and we're producing partners; I've learned more from her than anyone else. She always stresses the importance of learning ones craft and health and stamina as keys to longevity in show business.
Kat Kramer & Lily Tomlin

Ann: Your father, Stanley Kramer, was a successful director, what did you learn from him that improved your skills as an actress?  

Kat: My father, Stanley Kramer was a filmmaker; a director/producer who was also a writer and editor in the beginning of his career. He taught me to "take the work seriously, but yourself not at all."

You and your mom, Karen Sharpe-Kramer, created The Stanley Kramer Award to be presented at the Producer's Guild of America Awards each year, what is the award for and who is receiving it this year?
Kat Kramer & Jane Fonda photo by Sheri Determan

Kat: When my father passed away in 2001, my mother, who oversees the Stanley Kramer Legacy, went to the Producer's Guild of America, of which she was a member, and asked them to establish an award in his name to honor films, filmmakers, and individuals who carry on the Stanley Kramer Legacy and who make social justice films. My father was a filmmaker, but he made his mark as a producer and she felt the PGA could benefit from an award that recognized filmmakers of conscience. The first Stanley Kramer award was given to I Am Sam in 2002, and I've been actively involved since the beginning helping to find the honorees. Some of these include Angelina Jolie for her directorial debut of In The Land Of Blood And Honey, which she also produced, Sean Penn for his activism, The Antwone Fisher Story, Good Night and Good Luck, An Inconvenient Truth, MILK, Precious, Hotel Rwanda, The Normal Heart, Fruitvale Station, The Hunting Ground, Loving, and Get Out.  The 2019 honoree is Jane Fonda for her activism, producing of social issue films, and body of work, which will be presented to her at the Producer’s Guild of America Awards on Saturday, January 19th. I've always wanted Jane to get the Stanley Kramer award and now it's finally happening!

Ann: You and I have always been fans of the Netflix comedy series, Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin both of whom you know quite well. Why do you believe it's as successful with the younger generation as it is with the older? 

Kat: It's my favorite Netflix comedy and the show I most support and follow. This is largely because of Lily, Jane, and Martin Sheen who has been involved with Kat Kramer's Films That Change The World and hosted the 7th Anniversary; we presented the film he starred in BHOPAL: A Prayer For Rain. In Grace and Frankie, I love the story line between Robert and Sol, played by another favorite, Sam Waterston. But, it's the comedic situations that the characters, Grace and Frankie, find themselves in that make it funny. It's no secret I would love to be on the show, which was already renewed for a 6th season, or I’d at least like to be considered for a guest appearance. I've been lucky to have met most of the cast and creators and many of my colleagues have guest starred. I've also made a few suggestions to the powers that be and I'm glad they listened and incorporated my ideas. One was the interracial marriage between Bud and Allison, because my father made the 1967 interracial film classic Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and I felt that Bud who is African American should have a Caucasian love interest. 

As you know I work with the deaf community in entertainment and they included deaf talent in Season 3, which I advocated for. I’ve been trying to reunite Lily with my friend Ed Asner and I've been developing a film project with a writer and some producers for them, because they co-starred together back in the 1990's in a popular Christmas episode of X-Files. Our project hasn't happened yet, but it was nice to see Ed as a guest star with Lily on Season 5 of Grace and Frankie.

Ann: Do you have any current films or projects you’re working on that you can share with us to give us something to look forward to?
Kat, Daniel Hoffman, Paul Guilfoyle Turnover Photo by Sheri Determan
Kat: I have many up-coming projects, including a re-vamped version of my solo show, My Duet with Mick. There is the final season of the web series, Child Of The 70's, where I’m a cast regular and associate producer; season 5 debuts on February 1st. Can't give too much away as I created a new character that I’m keeping under wraps. There are two short films I'm acting in: one is about the effects of Alzheimer’s disease called, Mother's Day Memories, and the other one is titled, Fate's Shadow, where I appear with my mother; that's a short about reincarnation written, co-directed, and starring Michelle Arthur. It will be made into a feature film as well, and we are set for that version. And last but not least, the much anticipated film, TURNOVER, which I play Fran Parveau; it's an indie feature dramedy, a foodie film that celebrates diversity and inclusion. It was directed by the
dynamic Linda Palmer-Cardone, who also co-wrote with Laree Griffiths. It's a mostly female producing team and crew. We have a strong ensemble cast which includes deaf and down syndrome talent in supporting roles. I'm also a co-producer and we plan to hit the Film Festival circuit before a theatrical release.

Ann: Thank you, Kat, for taking the time to interview with me.

To learn more about Kat Kramer you can visit her website and connect with her on Facebook at .