Lucky Guy, the Nora Ephron-penned play about Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper reporter Mike McAlary, has recouped its $3.6 million capitalization eight weeks into its limited run. The play, directed by George C Wolfe and starring Tom Hanks, just got six Tony Award noms, including Best Play and Best Performance By An Actor In A Play, for Hanks.
Today The New York Times website posted in advance this Sunday’s magazine remembrance of Nora Ephron and her final days as written by one of her sons. The piece makes the poignant case that the reason she was reluctant to talk publicly about her leukemia was because of its effect on her showbiz projects:
At various points over the years, she considered coming clean to her friends and colleagues about her illness. But she knew the effect it could have on her career. Certainly, she could continue writing books and essays. But getting a movie made would be impossible, because no insurance company would sign off on it. Arguably, she could do a play, but bringing it to Broadway would be difficult, given that the development process takes years. Beyond that, what my mother didn’t want was to have her illness define her, turning every conversation into a series of “how are you?”s… Nevertheless, as she ran out of time, she chose not to acknowledge, at least explicitly, what was happening to her. One of the last e-mails she sent went out five days before she died. It was addressed to her film agent, Bryan Lourd. “I am as sad as you can imagine to report that I have leukemia. Early reports are not particularly hopeful but not hopeless either.”
Nora Ephron, the quintuple-threat director and screenwriter and playwright and author and columnist, died in June after quietly battling leukemia. She had been a staunch WGA member and received the WGA East’s Ian McClellan Hunter Award in 2003 honoring motion picture work, so this tribute set for the WGA’s New York awards show February 17 is fitting — she never won the guild award despite nominations for a heavy-hitter list of movies (Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless In Seattle and Julie & Julia). Her last play, Lucky Guy, is set to begin previews on Broadway next month with Tom Hanks and Maura Tierney starring. Here’s the guild’s release announcing plans:
New York City – Writers Guild of America, East today announced a tribute to award-winning, screenwriter, director, playwright, author, and Guild, East member Nora Ephron. The tribute to Ephron, who died in June, will be led by the author Meg Wolitzer, whose novel, “This Is My Life,” was adapted and directed by Ephron in 1992 and presented at the Writers Guild Awards East Coast ceremony on Sunday February 17th, in New York City.
“At this year’s Writers Guild Awards East Coast ceremony, we will mark the passing of one of our most distinguished and creative members. Nora Ephron’s life and body of work were those of a quintessential New Yorker, but not only did she embody the sophistication, wit and energy of our city, she was also a loyal union member who walked the picket line and talked the talk on behalf of all her fellow writers,” said Michael Winship, President, Writers Guild of America, East.
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:
Beverly Hills, CA – In celebration of writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia (2009) will screen as the final installment of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oscars Outdoors summer film series on Friday, September 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the new open-air theater located on the Academy Hollywood campus. Chef, restaurateur and radio host Evan Kleiman of KCRW’s “Good Food” will host a pre-screening discussion with some of Ephron’s friends and colleagues. The program is presented to coincide with the American Cinematheque’s celebration of Ephron films later in September.
Ephron, who earned Oscar® nominations for “Silkwood,” “When Harry Met Sally…” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” was also a renowned cook and dinner party hostess. Her appreciation of fine food led to her adapting and then directing “Julie & Julia,” which chronicles the year in which author Julie Powell cooked her way through chef Julia Child’s first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Today, August 15, marks the centennial of Child’s birth. In her honor, the Oscars Outdoors food trucks for the evening will reflect Child’s French culinary aesthetic.
EXCLUSIVE: While the Broadway musical transfer of the film Ghost is closing, another Hollywood three-hankie weeper is back up and running. I’m told that the musical Sleepless in Seattle, based on the 1993 Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan film, now has a creative team and will open at the Pasadena Playhouse June, 2013. Lonny Price was set last month as director. Now, Ben Toth has been hired to compose the music and Sam Forman to be the lyricist. David Shor is producer and Eric Stern is the musical director. The musical was expected to open on June 12 in Pasadena, but those plans were scrapped so that the show could undergo a radical overhaul. The late Nora Ephron wrote and directed the 1993 hit. Jeff Arch, a cowriter of the original film, is the book writer. The plan is to eventually follow and bring the musical to Broadway.
In introducing Screenwriting award winner Nora Ephron at a Hollywood Film Awards ceremony a couple of years ago her good friend and admirer Steven Spielberg said, “Nora knows how so easily to make us laugh and to make us cry and embrace the human comedy of it all. And she does it without any bathroom humor.”
That was the great thing about this multi-talented writer/director/author who clearly had a knack for writing about men and women, particularly the latter, without ever trivializing them or reaching for the lowest common denominator in what passes for many studio-bred movie comedies today. And she did it all with so much style, sophistication, flair and wit. It’s the end of an era. The Hollywood in which Nora Ephron excelled seems to be passing quickly before our eyes.
Related: Nora Ephron Dies At 71
It’s interesting to note that in 1983 when she got her first feature film script produced, Silkwood (directed by Mike Nichols), there were hardly any women in real power positions in the studios. Slowly, but fortunately that changed because it enabled Nora Ephron to be able to make movies her way in the studio system, and for that we are eternally grateful.
In her greatest screen successes as a writer of her Oscar-nominated script for When Harry Met Sally (1989) and later sitting in the director’s chair as well for such huge …
UPDATES: (With statements below)
Three time Oscar nominee Nora Ephron, the successful quintuple threat director and screenwriter and playwright and author and columnist who made a career out of the frank depictions of women and their relationships with men and careers and themselves, died today. Sources told Deadline she had been suffering from leukemia but didn’t want the showbiz community to know and had kept her illness a private matter. (The family later confirmed she died of acute myeloid leukemia). The result is that her death came as a shock to Hollywood. She was 71. Many considered Ephron one of Hollywood’s first successful feminist filmmakers able to bring humor, drama, pathos, and sometimes sentimentality to her depictions of women’s lives and their families.
The New York native wrote and/or directed some of Hollywood’s most admired and even best-loved modern movies, including Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally (1989), This Is My Life (1992, her first directing effort), Sleepless In Seattle (1993), You’ve Got Mail (1998), and Julie And Julia (2009). She was a triple Academy Awards nominee in the Original Screenplay category for three films: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. One of her least successful films, Heartburn, was autobiographical based on her 1983 roman a clef and depicted the adulterous end of her marriage …
Erroneous reports that Nora Ephron has died are posting on the Internet now so Deadline has just been asked to set the record straight. Yes, the famed 71-year-old writer-director-author is very ill but she wanted this to remain a private matter. And Deadline agreed to keep this confidential since we don’t report on showbiz personal lives. We continue to try to respect her wishes.