They remember Nora

The stars came out in the afternoon in New York City today — all to pay tribute to writer/director/friend to everyone, Nora Ephron.


Of course there were recipes — different recipes in the programs the ushers handed out. One was for coconut macaroons. “Makes about 22,” it said.

That would not have been enough to serve the 800 or so people who attended a memorial on Monday for the writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron, who made hits like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.”

But the recipe in the program reminded the crowd that Ms. Ephron loved cooking — and that she wrote and directed “Julie & Julia,” the 2009 film about a blogger who makes every one of Julia Child’s recipes in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Ms. Ephron, who died on June 26 of pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia, was also listed as a producer of that film.

Ms. Ephron had planned the memorial herself, filing the plans in a folder marked “exit.” The program turned out to be poignant at times and uproarious at times, and there were frequent food references — to her roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, for example, and to the collection of at least 10 kinds of jam that she kept in the refrigerator. And, according to her son Max, her resistance to having Thanksgiving dinner early in the day. “We always had it at 7, like civilized people,” he said…

… There was talk of the people Nora Ephron knew. “For most of us,” said another speaker, Richard Cohen, a columnist for The Washington Post, “Nora was one degree of separation. Nora not only knew everybody, she read everything. If I had a book, she had the galleys. If I had the galleys, she had the manuscript. If I had the manuscript, she knew the author. If you wanted to read the book before she did, you had to go to the printing plant in Kentucky or someplace.”

Mr. Cohen said that as Ms. Ephron’s film career took off, he took on a “public persona” as a friend of hers. “Once, Vanity Fair called and asked what Nora would have done if she had not become a movie director and I said, ‘Easy. Dictator of Argentina,’” he said. “When the magazine appeared, Nora called and said, ‘You know, Richard, not everything you say is funny.’”

Meryl Streep, who starred in “Julie & Julia,” said that talking about Ms. Ephron was a difficult assignment. “How do you talk about a friend who said everything you wished you could say, everything you wanted to say in the world, but better and shorter and funnier?” Ms. Streep asked.

Before Ms. Ephron’s death, Ms. Streep said she would have called her to “get some jokes and some advice and she would ask who was speaking and in what order and eventually get her to write my speech for me.”

“But sometimes you have to wait until your friend leaves the room to say how great she is,” she said, “because she absolutely would never put up with any of this if she were within earshot.”

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