You can't be a friend of, let alone a fellow podcaster with O'Toole without bowing to her Nora Ephron at least once or twice. When we did our podcast on Nora, you can hear O'Toole's irritation with my view that Nora wasn't an exceptional writer, but rather a woman who had a strong voice - her own voice - and was able to carry her clever conversational methodology to the written word, and then later to the screen. I felt that Heartburn which I read when it came out was not a great book and that it also put at risk her children, which is not something as a writer I would ever do. Then there is the problem of the Sleepless in Seattle screenplay, written by someone else, who she wouldn't properly credit, because she was Nora and didn't have to.
Much has changed since then for me personally, and I, like so many women of my generation who are running out of time to do that which we never thought was time-sensitive, start to realize that being a nice 'guy' just doesn't get the best out of you or get the best from you to leave behind.
And, as that struggle comes forward Everything is Copy, HBO Documentary Series' reflection on Nora by her son Jacob Bernstein, comes out and I decide I must review it if for no other reason than as a tribute to O'Toole. And, voila, my life is changed.
Her complexity is unraveled and suddenly the road ahead is clearer. She can be not nice and also a great friend at the same time. Reflections of those around her, and their love and fear of her shadowing some of the interviews, makes it clear that being who you are - the best of who you are - has a price and that it clearly is worth paying.
Jacob explains that Nora was an essayist, writing about her own life, and he is a journalist who takes himself out of the story. He then takes us on a ninety-minute journey through her life, through her writing and directing, that is better than some of her finest, funniest films. Interspersed in it all are tidbits of Nora interviews and we get to have an edited version of how to live your best life, regardless of the ups and downs presented to you.
Some highlights. Charlie Rose in an emotional clip saying he really just wanted her to like him. He cared very much during the interview that she would like him. Charlie Rose. Imagine. And then a soft-spoken Rosie O'Donnell who says some actors found her difficult - mean even - but that she knew Nora wanted to get it as good as it could get and that she understood that. Her sister saying, "when we died," and then stopping and realizing that she didn't die with her.
It's all a life lesson. It's a testament to a great woman, writer and director, and it's worth every single second you spend watching it. Watch it twice and cement its lessons into your soul. And Emily O'Toole, you are right and I was wrong about her. I say that with Nora Ephron certainty, for everyone said Nora was always certain of her point of view and now I can be certain of mine as well.
-Christine Merser (AKA Hollister)