A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron's revered trilogyWhen Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattlewhich brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham.
In I'll Have What She's Having entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Billy Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron's New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephronwho always knew what she wanted and how she wanted itruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members.
Along the way, Carlson examines how Ephron explored in the cinema answers to the questions that plagued her own romantic life and how she regained faith in love after one broken engagement and two failed marriages. Carlson also explores countless other questions Ephron's fans have wondered about: What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted comedian trapped in the body of a fairytale princess, not the first choice for the role? After she and Hanks each separatel balked at playing Mail's Kathleen Kelly and Sleepless' Sam Baldwin, what changed their minds? And perhaps most importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing ... in a turtleneck? An intimate portrait of a one of America's most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I'll Have What She's Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen.
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About the Author
Erin Carlson has covered the entertainment industry for The Hollywood Reporter and AP. Her work has appeared in Glamour, Fortune, and the LA Times. She compiled and wrote an oral history of You've Got Mail for Vanity Fair. She holds a masters in magazine journalism from Northwestern, and has been profiled in the New York Times.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 It Was a Sign 5
Chapter 2 Transitional People 46
Chapter 3 The Orgasm and the Aftershock 74
Chapter 4 This Is Her Life 91
Chapter 5 Sleepless Nights 109
Chapter 6 Nearest Thing to Heaven 144
Chapter 7 Sleepless, Stressed, and Addicted to Starbucks 160
Chapter 8 Make Nora Happy 182
Chapter 9 Stardust 193
Chapter 10 "A Bouquet of Newly Sharpened Pencils" (Also Known as IM-ing with the Enemy) 206
Chapter 11 Pride and Prejudice and Perfect Hair 229
Chapter 12 A Heart in New York 271
About the Author 341
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I miss Nora Ephron and loved every page of this book - just magnificent. It captures her essence, including her health struggles. Thank you so much Erin Carlson for writing this book - I am recommending it to all of the sensible women who also loved Nora's work, and to the younger ladies including my 45 year old daughter who only know her thru her films. This book is a heartwarming read - get it and after you have read it, pass it along to a friend. A great book club choice!
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Nora Ephron was known for many things, but the two most common was by her movies and her writing. I knew her only due to her films, so I was excited when offered this book to review to learn more about those films and more about her. The book was so much more than I expected. It did spend many pages telling Nora Ephron's story and behind the scenes of her biggest three movies, but it was more. There were so many stories about the development of the movies and about the stars involved in the movies. I loved how she used many of the same actors in her movies, she knew what she liked and didn't mind using actors over and over again if they performed well.
If you love When Harry Met Sally , Sleepless in Seattle , You've Got Mail , or all three, then this book is a must-read! I'll Have What She's Having takes you behind the scenes at all three movies, sharing how they each came to be, including the origins of some of our favorite lines and scenes. (When Harry Met Sally originally was supposed to have a different ending. Can you imagine the injustice?) Light and fun, gossipy and occasionally a bit rambly and slightly repetitive (the addition of a nude marble statue at Nora's New York apartment building comes up twice, or example--why?) this was a whole lot of fun to read for a fan of rom-coms as well as movies in the nineties in general. A bit more time was spent on WHMS than the others, though this only felt right since it was the first (and the one I can recite the most lines from--though SIS is a darn close second; obviously I need to spend more screen time with YGM). Where the plot ideas originated from and how they developed over time, how Rob Reiner really felt about his mother reciting one of the most famous lines ever in movies, and whether or not Jonah, Sam, and Annie really met on top of the Empire State Building (they didn't--it was a set created on a naval base on the other side of the country)--all this and more is revealed in this book, and darned if it doesn't all make you want to watch and re-watch all three films (and maybe a few others of Nora's) right now. And then maybe re-read the book...or at least a few parts of it... Rating: 4 stars / A- I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I have been looking forward to reading this book since I knew it's publication date months ago. I had to beg Hachette Books for a copy, but it was well worth it and did not disappoint in any way. The pace is fast-paced and witty, just like a Nora Ephron film. Ms. Carlson provided so much Hollywood history and social context that it made me marvel even more at the genius of Ms. Ephron and the films I have grown to love so much. Perfectly interjecting the careers and personalities of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, she laid out wonderfully well-rounded view of why and how these great movies have become hallmarks of the genre. Next time I see these movies, I feel I will enjoy them so much more just because I have the full picture of what they were trying to acheive. In addition, I learned so much more about the life of the legend Nora Ephron-the good and the bad. Ms, Carlson gives an adulating look at the women, but does not neglect her flaws-which of course, makes her as multi-dimensional as the roles for women she put on screen.
When Harry Met Sally. Sleepless in Seattle. You've Got Mail. Three iconic romantic comedies that may not have been such a huge hit when they were first released in theaters noting the competition among movies released at the same time, but these three movies are the ones that most women will often tell you they love. They are the ones they can watch over and over again. We have our favorite lines or moments from each film that makes them unforgettable. At the time they were in the works, female directors were almost as extinct as dinosaurs and when someone like Nora Ephron comes along, she will face not only harsh criticism from her fellow male directors, but also writers too! Romantic comedies are one of the hardest things to direct and write a screen play for. There has to be the perfect mix of comedy and chemistry between the lead actors. In the book, "I'll Have What She's Having," by Erin Carlson, we get a sneak peek not only into the making of these fabulous movies but also into what it took to breath life into them and make them the legacy movies women still love even today. This book takes you into the lines made famous by each movie including the title of the book from When Harry Met Sally. In fact if you are a fan of any or all of these movies, you will absolutely adore this book. Readers will learn what actors were going to play the parts but at the last minute gave them up. How very different these movies would have been had they not been played by the originals. You'll learn how hard it was to find a houseboat to shot Sam's house in Sleepless in Seattle. Did you know that the roof top scene on top of the Empire State Building wasn't even shot on location? In You've Got Mail, you will learn that Fox Books was filmed at an iconic Barnes and Noble, and that the construction scenes are from those very days of building the store, even though the close up shots were filmed on a studio backlot. You learn that The Shop Around the Corner was just another storefront on 106 West 69th Street for Maya Shaper Cheese and Antiques that they were about to use and repaint while filming all the outdoor shots of the bookstore. You'll learn that AOL did not originally coin the phrase "You've Got Mail" until the movie went into production and someone else did it for them so that they could have it. There is just so much wonderful information gleaned from this book that fans will want to pick it up. Be warned, however, it might just be followed up with watching all three movies back to back like I did! I received I'll Have What She's Having by Erin Carlson compliments of Hachette Book Groups. This is such a must have book for fans of any or all three iconic romantic comedies. There are the famous lines we all love to quote and perhaps my all time favorite was from You've Got Mail, "Don't you just love fall in New York? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." While there were many great moments, the book does end with the tragic death of Nora Ephron who passed away June 26, 2012 but she left behind a world full of strong women characters, hope and a whole lot of love. I easily give this book a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.