This past week HBO released a documentary made by Jacob Bernstein about his mother Norah Ephron, called, Everything Is Copy. The phrase was Ephron’s personal motto cribbed from her own screen writer mother, who encouraged her daughters to channel their pain into their work.
The documentary was meant to relay Ephron’s life, examine her work, and reveal bits from those who were friends with her and worked with her. While there wasn’t a whole lot new in the doc to me, I’ve read most of Ephron’s books, and seen all of her movies, and the whole point of “Everything is copy,” is that nothing was off limits in her work.
But that didn’t mean I wasn’t thoroughly entertained, and it was especially interesting to hear her second husband, David Bernstein talk about the dissolution of their marriage. (Which Ephron chronicled in barely fictionalized detail in her book and later film Heartburn, which I am currently reading) I’d seen Ephron’s side of that story, but never Bernstein’s and it was cool to see.
There was also a lot of speculation about why she kept her cancer a secret as she was dying. Why would a woman who’d always been so raw and honest conceal such a major part of her life? In the end we can’t know, but the best guest is that it was her way of controlling the story, by not revealing it.
My favorite part was hearing women who’d worked with and been influenced by Norah Ephron reading her essays. I Feel Bad Abour My Neck and I Remember Nothing are two of my favorite books and hearing Rita Wilson, Lena Dunham and, of course Meg Ryan vocalize those essays was a lot of fun for me.
As I’ve said a few times this year I’m trying to get back to some of my inspiration roots, and Norah Ephron is a big part of that. I still watch You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally everytime they’re on TV. I still write long rambly speeches and draw too close to my life when I write. This all comes from her. It was a good reminder that what I’m doing is worthwhile, and can go somewhere.