Mitchell Reports | June 27, 2012
>>> this is a season when a clutch of successful women who have it all give speeches to women like you and say to be perfectly honest, you can have it all. maybe young women don't wonder whether they can have it all any longer but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. what are you going to do? everything is my guess. it will be a little messy but embrace the mess. it will be complicated but rejoice in the complications. it will not be anything like what you think it's going to be like, but surprises are good for you. and don't be frightened. you can always change your mind. i know. i've had four careers and three husbands.
>> that was nora ephron . she did do it all and it was messy at times. she was at her alma mater , she was the class of '62, speaking to the graduating class of 1996 . the trail blazing film maker, humorist and author died of pneumonia brought on by leukemia at 71 years old. it was a shock even to some friends who did not know she was so seriously ill. today, a life lived well, remembered by friends and fans alike, celebrating a gifted story teller with a unique and very personal voice. joining me now, george stevens jr., a writer, director and emmy award winning producer, founder of the american film institute and the executive producer of the annual kennedy center honors as well as a long-time friend of nora ephron and sally quinn , friend of nora 's for 45 years. sally, 45 years is a long time to know anyone. nora ephron was constantly changing, learning and delighting in life and in herself and in her friends. one of the things that strikes me so much knowing her only as well as i do, was that she was such a woman's woman as well, such a good girlfriend, so giving and generous even to people who were casual acquaintances.
>> i think that's one of the things people didn't know very much about her, she was a girl's girl in a lot of ways. nothing she loved better than going shopping or antiquing or talking about, you know, different color shoes or underwear or whatever. she was always sending presents that would shock you, they were so charming and so feminine. but she had this reputation for being this tough, sharp, hard-hitting woman director and that really was part of who she was but it wasn't the real nora . she was a sentimental slob and all you have to do is look at her movies to see that.
>> and in fact, the movies. george, you as a film producer, as a friend of nora 's, the voice that we as viewers and fans saw, how unique was that, a woman in your business striking out and coming up with such wonderful story telling .
>> it really is quite unique. she considered herself a word person, not a picture person. her parents were both screen writers , phoebe, her mother, gave her two pieces of advice. one is that if you slip on a banana peel , people laugh at you but if you slip on a banana peel and don't talk about it, it becomes your story and you become the heroine of slipping on a banana peel . the other was that everything is copy and everything that nora saw in one way or another ended up in a book, in a movie, and she did it -- or essays, and even if it was painful, and as you know, she was six months pregnant when she had her divorce and she turned it into a novel called "heartburn" and she turned the novel into a screenplay in which nora was played by meryl streep .
>> you never knew with nora when you were going to end up in one of her movies. and she had a scene in which she said i was sally in "when harry met sally" and richard cohen was harry. i saw some similarities but -- and then she said that i was betty in "heartburn" and then she used our dog, sparky, in the movie --
>> every aspect of life, her life and other people's lives, became --
>> material. all material. yeah.
>> take us to the kennedy center honors and her tribute to meryl streep . she gave the toast this year to meryl streep who of course played her in "heartburn," the nora character, with the heartbreak of divorce and the wonderful novel that she wrote about it and then created the film, the screenplay. she gave a tribute to meryl streep , her friend and collaborator. tell us about that toast.
>> i can't recite it word for word but she said meryl has played karen silkwood , ethel rosenberg , carrie fisher , margaret thatcher and me, referring to herself, and then she turned to secretary clinton and she said inevitably, and of course everybody started laughing, and she said to the secretary, she said you may have thought she was really charming tonight when she was talking to you but she was silking you up. she said when you end up on the screen, you're going to find out that she's better at being you than you are.
>> which is exactly the acting magic, the alchemy of meryl streep . also, the fact she was a woman in a man's world, and she always related to the issue of women . this is another part of her address at wellesley college in 1996 .
>> one of the things people always say to you when you get upset is don't take it personally, but listen hard to what's going on in the world and i beg you to take it personally. understand this. every attack on hillary clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you.
>> that of course is also hillary's alma mater . it was when hillary was first lady. but she was very political. no question she was a political figure and saw things through that prism. the other thing about nora ephron which i find so striking, she did this in a man's world, george. how many women screenwriters, directors. she started as a journalist writing for "newsweek," then the "new york post" when women did not get those jobs, and then "esquire" and "new york" magazine came here. but breaking into film, how hard was that?
>> she said she wrote a script called "my blue heaven " and she saw it and it was pretty terrible and she said i just thought i could have done it as badly as he did. and gotten the $2.5 million. so she decided to be a director and she became a very good one.
>> but you know, a lot of men were afraid of nora . when you say she did it in a man's world, she wasn't afraid of men and she was not afraid to sort of assert herself in a way that so often women will do, will sort of sit back or hang back or not say what they think. nora said what she thought and most of the time, she was right. after listening to nora 's ideas and thoughts and what she wrote and what she did, people just decided, you know, we'll go with nora .
>> let's talk about what she said herself, that she would miss and wouldn't miss. she said that she will miss first of all, my kids, nick, her husband, pie. what she won't miss, dry skin, the sound of a vacuum cleaner and panels on women in film, among others. very clearly, she had that wry sense of humor. she saw the everyday facts of life . she wrote a book about her neck which was her take on aging.
>> she said something to me, i think it was six years ago that so stuck with me. it was the end, it was in august, and she said i get so sad at the end of august and i said why. she said it's the end of summer and it reminds me that life's not going on forever.
>> she wrote that in her book. it was something very poignant because she had this condition for six years.
>> and lived with it but didn't want to talk about it.
>> didn't tell a soul. well, there were a few people who knew about it, knew she had a condition and she was not well, but i remember reading "i feel bad about my neck" and thinking there was an underlying sadness in the book. when she wrote that, about the summer, because we always spent the summer together because we had houses right across the street from each other in east hampton , there used to be this great joy and then suddenly, it wasn't there anymore.
>> what meryl streep said in her statement, she fought fast, loved new ideas, processed swiftly, decided what was valuable and what was not with clarity. it's hard to credit how very smart she was because she was always feminine and funny. the sharpness of mind softened and smoothed by genuine charm.
>> yeah. well, you know, when you asked earlier about what kind of a girlfriend she was, when i got pregnant, she had already had jacob and max and i was an older mother. she went with me to have amniocentesis and held my hand because i'm needle-phobic and ultimately became my son's godmother. she was always, you know, there was this motherly side of nora that people didn't see very often because she was working. but she was very realistic about having it all and doing it all.
>> what she said to the wellesley graduates.
>> she was realistic about it. she said to them you can do it all, you may not be able to have it all. you can't do it all at one time. she used to talk about that. sometimes i focus on my husband, sometimes on my children, sometimes on my career, but i can't do all three at the same time equally well.
>> thank you for remembering. we have to leave it there. we'll be right back. [