Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Not My Job Guest: Nora Ephron

Writer/director Nora Ephron plays a quiz all about celebrity endorsements.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

O: namely our game Not My Job. Nora Ephron is an essayist, novelist and an Oscar-nominated writer and director of the kind of romantic comedies you don't have to be ashamed you love. Her films include: "When Harry met Sally", "Silkwood", Sleepless in Seattle." She's got a new book: "I Remember Nothing." Nora Ephron, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

I R: Thank you.

: What a pleasure to have you. I want to ask you this because you've made some of the most successful romantic comedies of all time, certainly the last 20 years, where everybody's charming and funny and self-aware and it all ends up great in the end. Are you trying to ruin it for everybody?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: Isn't your life like that?

: Not yet.

EPHRON: No?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: Are you married or divorced?

: I am, in fact, married.

EPHRON: You are?

: Yes.

EPHRON: Well, what are you complaining about?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: You have written about your own, quite vividly, about your own marital and romantic life. You've been married three times, right?

EPHRON: Yes, I have.

: You wrote the novel "Heartburn" about your marriage in the 70s. That became a movie in which you were played by Meryl Streep, which is an impressive thing to have happen to you.

EPHRON: Yes. Yes, and it was also about my divorce.

: It was.

EPHRON: Yes.

: So let's go back to that time in your life. And you're like, I just met Nora Ephron, I'm attracted to her, but if I marry her, I might end up in a major movie someday being played as a complete jerk by Jack Nicholson.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: Yes.

: Is that the sort of thing that might have caused you some difficultly?

EPHRON: Well, my next husband, and I hope my last husband, is sort of connected to the mob, so I don't...

: That's true.

EPHRON: I don't make that mistake with him.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: So while you could have him played by Jack Nicholson in unattractive fashion, he could have you buried in a cornfield.

EPHRON: That's right.

: There you are.

EPHRON: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: So it's like a...

EPHRON: It's a fair deal.

: It's an arms race.

EPHRON: Yeah, yeah, right.

: It's an arms race.

EPHRON: Yeah.

: I mean, to me you're as emblematic a New Yorker as Woody Allen.

EPHRON: Thank you.

: You've said, for example, you've made movies about New York, you've written about New York. One of the stories you've told is that when you were a kid, you were born here, but when you were like four, your parents moved you to Beverly Hills.

EPHRON: Yes.

: And this is the cool thing, you say that you hated it immediately.

EPHRON: I did. I was at nursery school and the sun was shining and happy, laughing children were everywhere.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: And all I could think was what have they done to me, where am I?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: What was it about...

EPHRON: Sunshine, laughter, I don't know.

: It doesn't sit well with a New Yorker's soul.

EPHRON: I don't know. I just knew I didn't belong there, you know, fish out of water thing, you know.

MO ROCCA: She was the only four-year- old wearing all black.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: Yeah. What is amazing about you is we were researching you and we knew about the movies and we've read the books, but the people you've known in your life, you're like Zelig, you were everywhere. For example, one of your first gigs was you were an intern at JFK's White House.

EPHRON: I was. I was.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Wow.

EPHRON: I was. In fact, I think I was the only person that Kennedy met that he didn't make a pass at.

: Really?

EPHRON: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: Wow.

: Have you come to peace with that?

POUNDSTONE: Well, that's only because he didn't want to be played by Jack Nicholson.

: Exactly. He knew.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: And then, of course, you were married to Carl Bernstein in the middle of Watergate.

EPHRON: Uh-huh.

: So you went from JFK to Watergate. I mean, did you canoodle with Lyndon Baines Johnson along the way? Any connection to that administration?

EPHRON: No, I didn't. But, you know, I've written about this in my book because I was at all these places and I don't remember. I met Eleanor Roosevelt. Ask me what she was like.

: What was Eleanor Roosevelt like?

EPHRON: I have no idea.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: How did you meet Eleanor Roosevelt?

EPHRON: I went up to visit with her because I was going to be an intern in the White House and we all went marching up there, all of us interns. All I remember is that I got lost on the Taconic.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Do you remember...

EPHRON: This is what happens to you. You know, I mean I was there the night Nixon resigned.

: You were where?

EPHRON: In front of the White House. And do you know what happened?

: What happened?

EPHRON: My wallet was stolen.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: And that's all you remember?

EPHRON: Yeah.

: Do you have any explanation for why it was that you were like the person who was around all of these people; have met all these famous people?

EPHRON: Well, no, I just think that when you're a journalist you sometimes discover that you're at places, you know, where things like that happen. You get sent to them. The Beatles, I was there.

: You were where?

EPHRON: I was there the day they arrived in America.

: Really?

EPHRON: I was...

POUNDSTONE: What do you mean you were there? Where?

EPHRON: I was at Kennedy Airport. I went to the Ed Sullivan show.

POUNDSTONE: Wow.

EPHRON: I did all that stuff.

: Right.

EPHRON: But I couldn't hear them.

: No.

EPHRON: No.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Right.

EPHRON: No.

ROCCA: Were you on the moon when they landed?

EPHRON: No.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: One last question. So you have done all these romantic comedies and despite what the first draft of "Harry Met Sally" might have been, they almost always end with happiness. So tell us now, Nora Ephron, writer/director of all those great movies, thrice and now successfully married, what is the secret to being happily in love? Go, tell us.

EPHRON: Oh, probably separate bathrooms.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Well, Nora Ephron, we are delighted to have you here. We've asked you here today to play a game we're calling?

CARL KASELL, Host:

I don't go anywhere without my Charles Bronson Bunsen burner.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: When you're a celebrity, as I'm sure you know, nothing is more valuable than your name. So the more worthless you can slap your name on, the more money you make. We're going to ask you three questions about questionable celebrity endorsements. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listener's, Carl Kasell's name on their home answering machine, or a Carl Kasell-brand home answering machine.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: So, Carl, who is Nora Ephron playing for?

KASELL: Nora is playing or Sanjay Mukerji(ph) of Montclair, New Jersey.

: There you go.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: New Jersey.

EPHRON: I want to apologize to Sanjay in advance.

: That's probably wise.

EPHRON: Yes.

: And charming, may I say. All right, here's your first question, Nora. The name Sylvester Stallone says strength, toughness, slurred speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Which one of these products did the Italian stallion put his name on? Was it A: Sylvester Stallone's power hammock? B: Sylvester Stallone high protein pudding? Or C: Sly's thigh master?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: Whoa.

: Yes.

EPHRON: A pudding?

: A pudding.

EPHRON: If it had been a pudding, I like to think I would have tried it.

: So you like the pudding though?

EPHRON: So I'm going to rule out the pudding.

: You're ruling out the pudding?

EPHRON: Yeah. Why? Do you think that's a bad idea?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Maybe they don't have this pudding at Zaybar's. You didn't see it. That's what I'm saying.

EPHRON: I don't know. I just can't believe pudding and Sly in the same thing. So I have to go for the thighs.

: You're going to go for Sly's thigh master.

EPHRON: Oh, gosh. Yes, what?

ROCCA: I don't want to...

EPHRON: You remember the pudding?

ROCCA: No, it's not that. I remember the jello-o. It's just that I - oh gosh, this would be a first is I misled a guest.

EPHRON: Yeah.

ROCCA: I'm not a lawyer but it seems like that would be a copyright infringement because Suzanne Somers has the thigh master. The hammock, I can see it. Wasn't there a shot in "Rambo" in the jungle?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: I don't know. It just seems like a nice place for a hammock.

EPHRON: Okay.

ROCCA: But I'm not telling you to do that.

POUNDSTONE: This is really not like him.

ROCCA: You don't know.

EPHRON: I'll go with Mo.

: You're going to go with Mo, and what's Mo?

EPHRON: Sure. Hammock.

: It was the pudding.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: That's okay, the answer is the pudding.

EPHRON: Okay.

: It's high protein.

EPHRON: Yeah.

: You cannot - and for those you who are like searching the internet right now to buy Sly Stallone high protein pudding, it's no longer available, sadly. All right, you still have two chances though. You can still win this. The band Kiss has put their name on dolls, t-shirts, you name it. But one of the more expensive Kiss-branded items was what? A: the $4,700 Kiss casket, so even in death people would know how crappy your taste in music was.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: B: the $6,000 Kiss kisser, a full set of dentures available with or without fangs. Or C: a $600 Kiss kitten which is "specially bred for ferociousness by Gene Simmons himself."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: I met him.

: You met whom?

EPHRON: Gene.

: Gene Simmons.

EPHRON: I did, yeah.

: I have to ask, in what context?

EPHRON: We had lunch at the Russian Tearoom.

ROCCA: You remember?

: You and Gene Simmons.

EPHRON: I remember this, but that's it.

: You can't remember Eleanor Roosevelt.

EPHRON: That's all.

: But Gene Simmons...

EPHRON: And I had borscht.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: I'm just treading water here.

: I understand you're treading water.

EPHRON: Because I have no idea.

: Really?

EPHRON: Yeah.

: You don't have any idea. It's the Kiss casket.

EPHRON: Yeah.

: It's the Kiss-emblazoned casket with Kiss.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: They like that.

EPHRON: Yeah?

: Kiss fans.

EPHRON: Yeah.

: Kiss Fans. Kiss kisser, dentures, custom made for those Kiss fans who find themselves toothless, or the Kiss kitten, specially bred by Gene Simmons, cat fancier.

EPHRON: Well, I'm going to guess the casket.

: You're going to guess the casket, and you are right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: Well done.

EPHRON: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: I had some help on that.

: Yeah, it's emblazoned with a giant Kiss logo. It can be used as a beer cooler until you die.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Here's your last question. It all comes down to this. One of Paris Hilton's many contributions to the world is what? A: the Paris Hilton trampoline. Bouncing is hot. B: the Paris Hilton-branded Snuggie. Warmth is hot.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Or C: the Paris Hilton scrapbooking kit? Being creative is hot.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

EPHRON: I'm going to say...

: Scrapbookers in the audience.

EPHRON: Scrapbooking kit.

: And you will be right. It is in fact the scrapbooking kit.

POUNDSTONE: No.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

: Very good.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

: The scrapbooking kit, it's reportedly one of her passions. Another one?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: One of her many passions. We'll just leave it there.

EPHRON: Yeah.

: Carl, how did Nora Ephron do on our quiz?

KASELL: Well, she had two correct answers, Peter. So Nora, you win for Sanjay Mukerji.

: Well done.

EPHRON: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

EPHRON: Thank you. Thank you.

POUNDSTONE: Wow. Very nice.

EPHRON: Thank you.

: Nora Ephron is a writer, director, the author of the new book, "I Remember Nothing." It's out now. Nora Ephron, thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!