Interview with Mindy Cohn

Palm Royale. Photo courtesy of Apple TV.


Interview with Mindy Cohn

On Palm Royale, her legendary costars and her triumphant return to series comedy.

When actress Mindy Cohn was the teenaged costar of the long running 1980s sitcom The Facts of Life, she had a “gaggle” of legendary ladies who were friends/mentors: Geraldine Page, Ruth Gordon, Elaine Stritch, Bea Arthur, Betty White and Cloris Leachman. They told Cohn, at that time riding high career-wise, that she would really have the best part of her career in her 50s and 60s. At 56, Cohn booked the role of reporter Ann Holiday on the fabulous Apple TV series Palm Royale. The show, which features an incredible all star cast including Kristen Wiig, Carol Burnett, Ricky Martin and more, just aired the season finale and has critics and fans clamoring for a second season. We caught up with Cohn to hear all about her return to high profile comedy.

So, tell me, how did Palm Royale come about? How did you first find out about it? How did the magic begin?

Oh, well, the magic began as it always does with an audition. That’s right. All us normies, all us middle class actors still get on the audition circuit. I did a self-tape because it was in the days of COVID, and we had stopped meeting in person. I’m going to say six or seven days later, my agent called and said, “Are you sitting down? You got it. It’s Palm Royale. It’s happening.”


About a month later, we were on the Paramount lot shooting. I was so nervous until about my 10th second there. Everyone was so welcoming and warm and delicious and everything that you hope for. I mean, we all don’t go to work to make friends, but the set was so familial immediately from the top down. And that’s Kristen. She’s sort of got this amazing mama energy and sorority sister and pal you want to go have a beer with all wrapped up in one. And so, the ride started.

Palm Royale. Photo courtesy of Apple TV.

I feel like her clothes and the clothes in general are so fun. It sort of makes me think of your granny who was such a style icon. Are you channeling her at all in the fashions?

Yes. Granny Rose is upfront and present. And in fact, I shared with Alex, our amazing costume designer, the fact that Granny ran the fur department at Saks Fifth Avenue and dressed for work every day. But of course, knowing you and you knowing me as you do, of course, I was also channeling Betty (White) and Bea (Arthur) and Cloris (Leachman) and Elaine Stritch, all of my gaggle of mentors and ladies.

And really the two that popped out the most for Ann were Ruth Gordon and Betty White. I mean, literally, I think I wore Betty White’s pants in half of Ann Holiday’s scenes. I just would look in the mirror and go, “Okay, so from the neck up, it’s Granny Rose, and from the neck down, that is Mrs. Betty White Ludden. Thank you very much.”

Speaking of those women, I remember that they told you that you were going to have an amazing career in your fifties. Did you believe them and has what they said come true?

Well, between you, me and the lamp post, kiddo, Betty had just passed when I booked this. So, you know that I had this emotional moment of thinking. She went up there, found the girls, found Allen, found everybody she needed to see, and then said, “Let’s throw the kid a bone for God’s sakes.” The timing was not lost on me. Let me put it that way. And the fact that when I booked this, I had just turned 56.

“Who’s going to last that long?” I mean, that’s what you say at 19, of course, idiot that I was. And here we are, the year that I booked Palm Royale, I also booked this delicious movie that I did up in Canada, a wonderful character and got to work with Al Pacino. So really it was the year of embarrassing riches. And yeah, I can’t help keep thinking of these ladies that were the age I am now when they told me.

Are there young people who you are attracted to or mentor or bond with in the way that you bonded with women of that age when you were young?

Well, I have to say, I don’t know what a mentor I am to her, but Kaia (Gerber) and I have had a couple of fabulous coffee dates. Her being the ripe old age of 21, it’s just so darling because I have felt that energy. I mean, she certainly has a bazillion other women to look to, and I know that she and Kristen are incredibly close, but she is one of those young actors.

Palm Royale. Photo courtesy of Apple TV.

Kaia is fabulous on the show.

Oh yeah. And she’s just begun. I mean, she is literally the powerhouse that nobody understands is coming.

A few of the other cast I want to run through. You’ve already talked about her but tell me more about Kristen.

I’m obsessed with her and more than I thought I would be. And I think people are finally seeing her full dimension as an actor. She’s just so delicious and real. And I mean, for lack of a better term, really just so sisterly in a way that I just didn’t expect.

I kind of can’t say enough about her. As you see, I get a little tongue-tied and a little emotional. I mean, you know me to be a crier anyway, but I get emotional when I think about her because you always don’t want to meet some… I’ve been around people who are uber talented and then they’re a little bit like a dishrag in person. There’s no there there. I mean, there’s so much there in Kristen and she’s addictive to be around. I’ll just put it that way.

People think she’s going to be acting SNL hilarious.

She’s not Jo Anne Worley. No, she’s very soft and subdued and quiet, but wicked.

What about Ricky Martin?

First of all, we go so far back. I met him when he was part of Menudo and I didn’t think he would remember, but he did, which just shows you he’s just truly darling. The word darling was meant for Ricky. First of all, my favorite story to tell about Ricky, and there’s a few, and all the women on the set have noticed it and clocked it. You just want to touch him and be touched by him.

What I mean by that is you’re… Him and Carol are standing on stage and he just quietly grabs her hand and holds her hand. He did that for me at the premiere on the press line. He just kind of grabs my hand. You’re holding his hand. You’re just like, I would just like you to hold my hand for the rest of my life. He’s like a walking, talking baby Bjorn. Yes, he’s sexy and delicious, but he’s so darling and warm and genuine. And I think that’s what’s coming across in his character. I just think Cary Grant is rolling a little in his grave going, “Who is this guy?” Because he just so exudes that Cary Grant, soft, delicious, funny, a little mischievous. I think it’s really coming across in this role. And there’s Ricky in there for sure.

Palm Royale. Photo courtesy of Apple TV.

Tell me when you met him when he was in Menudo.

Well, all the sitcoms filmed in the same part of Universal Studios. So, there was everyone from Different World to One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons to Silver Spoons. Menudo came to do an episode of Silver Spoons and they worked right next door. And Ricky Schroeder came over to our set and said, “The guys really want to meet you girls. They love the show. They don’t speak English well, but they’re trying to learn English and they’re watching sitcoms to do it.”

And we walked over and they were divine. He was the baby, he was the youngest. I think he was 12 or 13, he can’t remember either. And we met and we hung out for the afternoon. Cut to 45 years later, not 40 years later. There he is. And we also have become really good friends. We were texting this morning.

Carol Burnett, the queen. I mean, what a gift.

Yes. I mean, to work with her professionally is a whole different thing. But Carol was one of my carpool moms. And what I mean by that is no, she did not drive me in carpool, but I went to high school with her daughter, both her daughters, but her eldest daughter and I were friends. And so, I met Carol as a seventh grader at Westlake School for Girls, and obviously fangirled out a little then.

I have to say, it has been one of the highlights of my life to be on the set with her. Let’s just leave it at that. I don’t know quite else how to put that in position of who you’d want to work with because in your wildest dreams, you wouldn’t imagine it was going to be Carol Burnett.

I know you posted on IG today about Allison Janney, a beautiful post about working with her. Did you know her before the show?

No, and she was in my top five list of actresses I wanted to work with for the past 15, 20 years. And it’s the only time I got very emotional on the set. We were going on set to do my first scene. And it happened to be with Kristen and Allison and Julia Duffy and a couple of other actors. I turned to Kristen and I said, “I’m totally freaking out.” And she said, “Because?”

And I said, “I think I might start crying. I’m going to work with Allison Janney. I’m obsessed with Allison Janney.” Kristen grabbed my hand and she said, “I understand why you feel that way, and she’s worth every minute of it.” She said, “She’s delightful.” And we got on set. And the way that it worked was I didn’t see her. I heard her first, and Kristen and I were already in position. This was the steam room scene, which I think is in episode two.

And that was the first scene I shot too. So hi, welcome to it. I’m in a towel, so already I’m like… Meeting my crew in a towel was not the most amazing thing. And then it’s Allison Janney, I’m literally going to shit myself. And I hear her voice and I looked at Kristen and she looked at me, she goes, “Don’t do it. Don’t start crying. Oh my God, please don’t start crying Mindy.”

Palm Royale. Photo courtesy of Apple TV.


So, the scene rehearsal ended and the director said, “Okay, cut. All right, everybody, places, let’s do one.” And so, everybody was getting makeup touches and Allison came over to me and I just went, “I have wanted to work with you all of my life.” I mean, that’s not true. But I just didn’t know what to say. And she hugged me and she goes, “I have been waiting to meet you. I’m such a huge fan.”

And I think I levitated. But anyway, cut to the reason I posted what I posted on Instagram today. It was true. So many people say, “Don’t meet your heroes.” I get why. But you know what? Sometimes you just really have to, and she has lived up to all the hype. Yeah, she’s divine. Just divine.

Anybody else in the cast that you particularly want to mention? I mean, it was fun to see Jason Canela, whom I know from Young and the Restless. He’s so sexy.

He’s so sexy and such a sweetheart. I do have to give a little shout out to Leslie Bibb, whom I worked with before. We did a film together, she blows the pants off of this role. I relate to in that we’ve just been doing this forever and have lost no passion and excitement for doing it. And she’s also just delicious in this.

Then I do have to give a little shout out to my crush, my set crush, Josh Lucas, who you hear all kinds of stories about, happens to be one of the loveliest, funniest, most open and wonderful actors I have had the privilege of working with. I’ve kind of become like the president of his fan club.

Do we know anything about another season of Palm Royale?

We do not have the official go ahead. I’m waiting for everybody to attack Apple Plus Studios and demand season two. I love this. In the premier press line some aggressive press person shoved a mic in Carol’s face. “Carol, you’re about to be 91. What would you like for your 91st birthday?” And she said, “Season two.” I’m with Carol. I’m with her.

So am I!