Life Isn't Everything: Mike Nichols, as Remembered by 150 of His Closest Friends

Life Isn't Everything: Mike Nichols, as Remembered by 150 of His Closest Friends

by Ash Carter, Sam Kashner


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An up close and personal portrait of a legendary filmmaker, theater director, and comedian, drawing on candid conversations with his closest friends in show business and the arts—from Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep to Natalie Portman and Lorne Michaels.

The work of Mike Nichols pervades American cultural consciousness—from The Graduate and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Angels in America, The Birdcage, Working Girl, and Primary Colors, not to mention his string of hit plays, including Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. If that weren’t enough, he was also one half of the timelessly funny duo Nichols & May, as well as a founding member of the original improv troupe. Over a career that spanned half a century, Mike Nichols changed Hollywood, Broadway, and comedy forever.

Most fans, however, know very little of the person behind it all. Since he never wrote his memoirs, and seldom appeared on television, they have very little sense of his searching intellect or his devastating wit. They don't know that Nichols, the great American director, was born Mikail Igor Peschkowsky, in Berlin, and came to this country, speaking no English, to escape the Nazis. They don't know that Nichols was at one time a solitary psychology student, or that a childhood illness caused permanent, life-altering side effects. They don't know that he withdrew into a debilitating depression before he "finally got it right," in his words, by marrying Diane Sawyer.

Here, for the first time, Ash Carter and Sam Kashner offer an intimate look behind the scenes of Nichols' life, as told by the stars, moguls, playwrights, producers, comics and crewmembers who stayed loyal to Nichols for years. Life Isn't Everything is a mosaic portrait of a brilliant and original director known for his uncommon charm, wit, vitality, and genius for friendship, this volume is also a snapshot of what it meant to be living, loving, and making art in the 20th century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250112873
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 11/12/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 219,345
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ash Carter is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Esquire, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, and the New York Times. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Sam Kashner
is an editor-at-large at Air Mail and was for many years a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine. He is the author of Sinatraland (a "notable book" of both the Washington Post and the L.A. Times) and the acclaimed memoir When I Was Cool: My Life At the Jack Kerouac School and coauthor of the recent New York Times bestsellers The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee and Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century.

Table of Contents

Authors’ Note
Introduction: The Burton Stakes
Chapter 1: Dybbuks and Golems
Chapter 2: To Sell Another Drink
Chapter 3: Premise Envy
Chapter 4: Don’t Act It Funny
Chapter 5: It All Started in the Alley
Chapter 6: The Citizen Kane of Disaffected Youth
Chapter 7: Icarus Was Falling
Chapter 8: We Must Work Together
Chapter 9: No New Worlds to Conquer
Chapter 10: Can I Get a Wild Take?
Chapter 11: Caviar for the General
Chapter 12: A Means to Egress
Chapter 13: Like Church, but a Fun Church
Chapter 14: Making Friends with Death
Coda: That Guru Thing

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