The patron saint of smart New York women, Nora Ephron is sorely missed. We have not seen her like since 2012 when she died at age 71 of pneumonia and leukemia. Not that you could refashion her particular savvy, audacity, and wit. Now her son Jacob Bernstein has made a film about her, Everything is Copy: Nora Ephron Scripted & Unscripted to air on March 21 on HBO, and it is so full of memorable interviews with her on Charlie Rose and Dick Cavett, you can feel her presence in our midst.
The film's title, Everything is Copy, was a mantra she learned at her parents' knee. Screenwriters, they would wipe away her tears as a little girl growing up in Hollywood, and say them, words a writer can live by. When her second husband Carl Bernstein was having an affair during her pregnancy, she dumped him and wrote the novel, Heartburn. The book was so popular, even Paul Bowles living in Tangier wrote to me about how it made him laugh. And then it was made into a movie with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, directed by Mike Nichols.
The documentary features a trip down memory lane with the movies she scripted or directed: Silkwood, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, Julie and Julia, and When Harry Met Sally, highlighting the scene in the deli when Meg Ryan as Sally fakes an orgasm. Jacob Bernstein interviews his father who seems surprised to learn how much he and his brother Max were affected by his infidelity and their parents' divorce.
Nora Ephron loved dinner parties and loved to cook. At her memorial service in 2012, each program included a recipe: mine was for Potatoes Anna. In Heartburn, she abandons Anna for mashed, the ultimate comfort food. On Monday night, MoMA's ample lobby was transformed for a swank dinner party, featuring Danny Meyer's interpretation of her favorites: including mashed potatoes, salad with bacon bits, and lots of butter.
Her husbands Nick Pileggi, and ex, Carl Bernstein, Meg Ryan, Tyne Daly, Fran Lebowitz, Heather Burns, Carol Kane, Paul Haggis, Norah O'Donnell, Mort Zuckerman, Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker were some attending, joining filmmakers, producer Graydon Carter and HBO's Richard Plepler.
As if the many essays she wrote, and movies we can all recite by heart didn't give enough of Nora Ephron's worldview, the documentary offers life-changing advice she gave everyone from Nora's sisters Delia, Amy, and Halley, to friends Richard Cohen, Gay Talese, and others. Most bewildering to everyone was how she kept her illness to herself. Whatever, Nora was always right.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.