News / Arts & Entertainment

Ephron's Final Play Salutes Journalism

George C. Wolfe , Maura Tierney, and Tom Hanks, with an image of Nora Ephron behind them on a large screen, at the
George C. Wolfe , Maura Tierney, and Tom Hanks, with an image of Nora Ephron behind them on a large screen, at the "Lucky Guy" opening night, April, 1, 2013 in New York, NY.
Tom Hanks makes his Broadway debut in Lucky Guy, the final play written by the late Nora Ephron.

Ephron was best known for movies she wrote and directed, like When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail. She died of cancer in January. Her final work opened on Broadway April 1.

Several years ago, when Ephron handed Hanks an early draft of her play about tabloid journalist Mike McAlary, he had a pretty strong reaction.

"I said 'Well, that guy’s sure a jerk.' And she laughed and she said, 'Well, he kind of was, but he was kind of great, too,'” Hanks recalled.  

What appealed to Ephron about the sometimes ethically-challenged, hard-drinking McAlary was that he came from a world dear to her heart. She moved to New York as a young woman and landed a job at the New York Post. 

Hanks said, in some sense, she never stopped being a reporter.

"I think Nora rode her life as a journalist, literally as far as it possibly could," he said. "And then, when it came time, she took those same journalistic sensibilities and turned to books and the same journalistic sensibilities are in her films. Everything she’s ever done, everything I’ve ever done with her, has really been sort of like, about reporting on modern times."  

The play is set in the newsrooms, streets and bars of New York during the 1980s and 90s, when the city was facing an epidemic of crack cocaine as well as police corruption.

"It’s a play about the death of newspaper culture and the characters who filled that world and the characters who replaced them and a sensibility that replaced them," said director George C. Wolfe. "I think, at the end of the thing, a love poem to journalism."  

Audiences who know Ephron from her romantic comedies, like Sleepless in Seattle, may be surprised to encounter such a testosterone-fueled work.
 
"She said, 'What’s more fun than hanging out in the bar with the guys?'" Wolfe recalled. "And the sort of intimate knowledge that she brings about all of that is really fun."  

Many of the play’s characters are based on real life personalities, some of whom are still alive. Others, like McAlary, are not. He died of cancer at the age of 41. Hap Hairston, who died of a heart attack in 2002, and was one of McAlary’s editors and best friends, is played by Courtney B. Vance.

"Their work was much better because of his deft hand and it’s a bit like a marriage, that editor and writer relationship," said Vance. "And so he was very, very good at what he did and when they separated, it was hard on both of them."

The play follows McAlary through his rise to become the best paid columnist in the New York tabloids, the near-fatal car crash caused by his own drunk driving, his reporting missteps and rehabilitation. His last major story, about a notorious case of police abuse in 1997, earned him the Pulitzer Prize, but he died of colon cancer just months later.  

For Hanks, working on a play about a man who died of cancer, written by a woman who died of cancer before she could see it staged, feels poignant.

"Well, selfishly, I did this to hang out with Nora," he said. "Go off and, you know, be on Broadway finally and do it with Nora and she’d be there every day and we’d be batting around ideas."  

One of Ephron’s sons, also a journalist, is proud of Lucky Guy, but it's a bittersweet experience for him.

"I miss my mother," said Jacob Bernstein, "and that supersedes a play that she would’ve written or a movie that she would’ve directed, all of that stuff."

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.