Mike Fleming

This one has been long in the works, but now Tom Hanks has committed to play Mike McAlary in Lucky Guy, the play that Nora Ephron completed before she died in late June at age 71. Early in my career, I worked with McAlary for five years at New York Newsday, and I must say I was in awe of the guy and his daily accomplishments. Despite his outsized reputation and accomplishments, Mike was this big unassuming Irishman, and you would say hello in the elevator and share some small talk, and then get into the newsroom and see that while most of us were sleeping Mike had broken some unbelievable crooked-cop story late that night. Like the time he met a cop who got caught up in a corruption case and bared his misdeeds to Mike. Then went home and blew his brains out. And there was Mike’s chilling account of it all.

In a newsroom where we were surrounded by the likes of Gotham legends from Murray Kempton to Jimmy Breslin and many others, McAlary was the one the young reporters like me most admired. He never stopped working, retiring late at night to the watering hole Elaine’s where he drank with police brass and politicians, in the name of cracking the next big cop story. It was easy for us to feel unworthy as Mike broke big stories and then turned his reporting into bestselling books. He nearly died from a car crash, but was too tough to succumb to something like that. It was cancer that did him in, but none of his former colleagues will forget how Mike interrupted a chemo session to investigate a tip that a cop had brutalized a suspect, Abner Louima, in the most imaginably horrible way possible. Mike got off the bed, and found his way to Louima’s hospital room where he confirmed the story. His reporting shook up the city he covered, won him a Pulitzer Prize and was a real screw-you to cancer before he succumbed at age 41. Crazy Love director Dan Klores covered Mike’s saga onstage with his play, The Wood. Can’t wait to see Hanks bring a legend to life onstage.  Here’s the official announcement:

Two-time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks will make his Broadway debut in the world premiere of three-time Academy Award®-nominee Nora Ephron’s play LUCKY GUY, to be directed by two-time Tony Award®-winner George C. Wolfe.

The production will play a limited engagement at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street), with an opening night on April 1, 2013. Previews will begin March 1. Additional casting will be announced in coming weeks.

LUCKY GUY will be produced on Broadway by Colin Callender, Roy Furman, Arielle Tepper Madover, Roger Berlind, Stacey Mindich, Robert Cole and Frederick Zollo, David Mirvish, Daryl Roth, James D. Stern/Douglas L. Meyer, Scott and Brian Zeilinger, in association with Sonia Friedman Productions and The Shubert Organization.

Nora Ephron’s LUCKY GUY marks a return to her journalistic roots in a new play about the scandal- and graffiti-ridden New York of the 1980s, as told through the story of the charismatic and controversial tabloid columnist Mike McAlary.

From his sensational reporting of New York’s major police corruption to the libel suit that nearly ended his career, the play dramatizes the story of McAlary’s meteoric rise, fall and rise again, ending with his coverage of the Abner Louima case for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, shortly before his untimely death on Christmas Day, 1998.

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