TODAY

TODAY   |  March 07, 2013

Nora Ephron’s son remembers her in touching tribute

Nora Ephron was an extraordinary writer and humorist, who wrote dozens of iconic movie scenes before her death from leukemia last year. Her son, Jacob Bernstein, opens up about his mother after sharing a moving tribute to her in the New York Times magazine.

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>>> we're back now. 8:15 with a touching tribute to the late nora ephron . her son is honoring her with this piece in "new york times" magazine. it's already on their website and a lot of people have read it and talking about it this morning. we'll talk to him in a moment. first, nora ephron 's remarkable legac legacy.

>> as a screenwriter, nora ephron had a way with words.

>> i better deliver this. i have a very thirsty date. she's part camel.

>> in her movie, her observations about men and women earned a place in our hearts with iconic unforgettable scenes.

>> yes yes oh!

>> i'll have what she's having.

>> ef sfron broke into the boy's club of hollywood directors with hits like "sleepless in seattle" and "you've got mail." now, her son, jacob, is taking center stage in an essay and says his mom hoped they would lead the kind of lives and did stuff big enough they would occasionally say, wow, i wish mop was around for this. while she did not disclose her six year battle with leukemia to most of the world. he points out she directed "julia and julia" and blog post s. she kept working and nora ephron , fearless, she kept going until the very end.

>> i got to read this last night. it's beautiful, candid, very personal. i know as a writer and as the son of nora ephron , you must have stopped 50 times while you wrote this and thought, what would mom think about this? would she think it was good?

>> yes. would it be good enough was the biggest question on my mind because she would have found a way to be funny about it, she would have found a way to be heartbreaking about it and all that. that was what she was, you know, great at.

>> would she have minded that you do reveal so many private and personal moments of her last days and weeks? because she kept this illness so private, how do you think she would have felt about that?

>> that's a good question. beaut my mother's mother, who was also a writer, always said everything is copy. when she was on her death bed, she said to my mother, take notes and my mother did. i don't think i'm doing something out of sync with --

>> did you take notes while your mom was dying?

>> i did.

>> how did she feel about that?

>> she knew i was sort of keeping a journal of what happened. obviously, when she went in for chemo, we thought it might go well and you think, then i won't have to use this. but the possibility, it seemed to me, existed it would not and i would want to be able to remember stuff later on.

>> i had the pleasure of interviewing your mom on several occasions, the pleasure of sitting next to her at a couple of dinner parties. she was delightful and very funny. one of the things that stood out to me you wrote, even as she slipped in and out of a kind of consciousness, she retained her sense of humor.

>> she did. there was this moment the nurses and doctors were saying to her, tell me your name. she says nora ephron . they say, what hospital are you in?

>> new york hospital.

>> who's the president of the united states ? shiites couldn't answer or was done answering and rolled her eyes and wouldn't answer.

>> lost her patience. her career is legendary and movies seared into our conscience. guy you think her writing and style of writing resonated with so many people.

>> i think her level of movies isn't true of so many big blockbuster movies and comedies. you look at "sleepless in seattle" and the whole thing with "an affair to remember" and what was being commented on internet culture before other people were writing about it and acknowledging that people really went on the internet to date and to meet each other. i think that these movies operated on levels that you didn't see ordinarily.

>> finally, you were candid with your mom before she died and you said, mom, i'm paraphrasing here, mom, i'm not sure after you're gone i'll be able to write again.

>> i certainly wondered if i would want to because she was always the person whose approval i looked to. she was absolutely the one that you waited for the e-mail from, s saying, you know, great job. she was also the person who, you know, when i was working on something, and kind of she could tell i had been on the story for a couple of weeks and she would say, have you called at least two dozen people on this yet? you kind of go, oh, god, because she was usuallyright.

>> i think she would find this beautiful, because the piece is truly -- it's candid and it's touching and i hope a lot of people get a chance to read it when it appears in the "new york times" magazine this sunday. jacob, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

>> thank you.

>> i appreciate it.