Saying goodbye to Ephron - and recalling her Sundance debut
Published: July 10, 2012 11:28AM
Updated: July 10, 2012 11:28AM
FILE - This Nov. 3, 2010 file photo shows author, screenwriter and director Nora Ephron at her home in New York. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf confirmed Tuesday, June 26, 2012, that author and filmmaker Nora Ephron died Tuesday of leukemia in New York. She was 71. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, file)

Nora Ephron's friends and family gathered last night at New York's Alice Tully Hall to say goodbye.

A memorial service Monday night gathered many famous folks who had appeared in her movies, including Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Martin Short and Rosie O'Donnell. Columnist Richard Cohen and the director Mike Nichols spoke, as did Nora's sons Max and Jacob and her sister Delia. (Rebecca Dana gives a moving account of the event in The Daily Beast.)

Ephron died June 26 at the age of 71, from leukemia.

Monday's memorial service gives The Cricket a chance to recall the writer-director-author's significant tie to Utah -- bringing her first movie as director, "This Is My Life," to be the opening-night film at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival.

The movie starred Julie Kavner, forever the voice of Marge Simpson, as a working mom who upends her and her family's life to pursue her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian.

At the opening-night screening, at the long-gone Crossroads Plaza Cinemas (in what is now the parking garage of City Creek Center), Ephron told the audience that she was "not as nervous as I should be," the Tribune's Terry Orme, The Cricket's predecessor as movie critic, reported at the time.

"By the standards of this festival, ours is a bloated epic," Ephron joked. "This movie cost $10 million, but we like to think it looks like at least $11 million."

Then, as now, pitching a movie about women was difficult in Hollywood, Ephron told the assembled press. "It's really a nightmare to write a movie about women," Ephron said. "You can sell a studio a movie about a man with a hangnail, but if you want to make a movie about a woman's life, they look at you and say, 'Do you think that would be interesting?'"

That job may be a bit harder now, without Ephron around to show us how it's done.