Everything Is Copy
Written and directed by her son, Jacob Bernstein, Everything Is Copy — Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted tracks Nora Ephron’s rise from the mailroom of Newsweek to a notable stint reporting for the New York Post, where she caught the eye of influential editors like Harold Hayes, Clay Felker and Helen Gurley Brown. Marked by biting honesty and intelligent humor, her incisive writing soon began appearing regularly in Esquire, New York Magazine, the New York Times and Cosmopolitan, winning devoted fans and foes alike. No one — including her parents, her former bosses, or, most famously, her spouses — was safe in her work.
The documentary features intimate interviews with many of the people closest to her, including her three sisters, Delia, Amy and Hallie Ephron, along with writers such as Gay Talese and Marie Brenner and film industry colleagues, among them Tom Hanks, Rob Reiner, Meg Ryan, Steven Spielberg and Meryl Streep. The film provides insights from childhood schoolmates and close colleagues from the entertainment industry and journalism, including David Remnick, Richard Cohen, Barry Diller, Bryan Lourd, Lynda Obst, Amy Pascal, Barbara Walters and George C. Wolfe, as well as illuminating interviews with Dick Cavett and Charlie Rose.
Additionally, Ephron’s funny, probing essays are brought to life in dramatic readings by actresses Lena Dunham, Gaby Hoffman, Reese Witherspoon, Rita Wilson and Meg Ryan, all of whom regarded Ephron as a pioneer, mentor and friend.
Born to Hollywood screenwriters, Ephron came of age in the golden years of print journalism, and went on to become one of America’s leading literary voices. She moved into screenwriting, working first for TV and then for feature films, where she became one of the industry’s most successful writer-directors. Her first Academy Award nomination in the original screenplay category came for 1983’s Silkwood, followed by a second for 1989’s When Harry Met Sally, which remains a comedy benchmark. Ephron adapted the screenplay for 1986’s Heartburn from her own novel, based on the high-profile breakup of her marriage to celebrated journalist Carl Bernstein.
She stepped behind the camera to direct for the first time on 1992’s This Is My Life and followed it up with Sleepless in Seattle, which resulted in her third Oscar nomination for original screenplay. By 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, she had often been credited with revitalizing the romantic comedy genre. Ephron also directed 2009’s Julie & Julia and published a number of nonfiction collections, including I Feel Bad About My Neck, a best-selling compilation of astute essays on beauty and aging, many of which originated in The New Yorker and Vogue.
Believing that “writers are cannibals,” Ephron could be ruthless in her determination to tell the best story. Bernstein explores the line between professional ambition and personal loyalties, turning the camera on his own family to gain perspective. He seeks insights from his three aunts and sits down for a frank interview with his father, Carl Bernstein. He also paints a moving picture of Ephron’s third marriage to writer Nicholas Pileggi, a lasting relationship that fulfilled and nourished her.
In the end, having lived her life out loud, in print and on screen, Ephron kept quiet about the most profound crisis of her life. Diagnosed in 2006 with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder, she hid the details from many of her colleagues and friends, leading to shock and confusion, as well as grief, when she died in 2012 at age 71.
Everything Is Copy — Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted reveals a smart, feisty woman unafraid to speak her mind as she juggled family with career and shape-shifted over time, morphing from cub reporter to gimlet-eyed critic to accomplished filmmaker, playwright and blogger.
HBO Documentary Films in association with Consolidated Pictures presents a film by Jacob Bernstein; written and directed by Jacob Bernstein; edited by Bob Eisenhardt; produced by Carly Hugo and Matt Parker. For Consolidated Documentaries: executive produced by Graydon Carter and Annabelle Dunne. For HBO: supervising producer, Lisa Heller; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.