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 "Lucky Guy" opening night, April, 1, 2013 in New York, NY.
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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.