‘Lucky Guy’: Tom Hanks does a great thing for Nora Ephron

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luckyLast week, I got in just under the wire to see the Nora Ephron play “Lucky Guy” which today ends its limited run at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Although we will never know how much polishing Ephron might have done on the piece if she had not died a year ago, the comedy drama about the life of the late New York City journalist Mike McAlary is a fitting end to a remarkable career.

Ephron began her writing life as a reporter at the New York Post in the 1960s — years before McAlary became a star there — but she was able to use the material to craft her own love letter to a quickly vanishing era of urban newspaper people.

The Internet is packed with fabulous writing and reporting, but it is doubtful that any blogger will ever have the impact on a city that writers like McAlary and his idol Jimmy Breslin had on lucky1New York.

There is nothing comparable today to the down-to-earth, news-breaking columns that were read by a good proportion of the population in big cities during the 20th century. When I was a kid in the 1960s, I was in awe of Philadelphia newspaper columnists everyone seemed to read, like Joe McGinniss and Rose DeWolf (years later, when I saw the long-retired DeWolf at the next table in a Chinese restaurant, for me it was like dining near a favorite movie star).

Ephron saw the bluster (and borderline corruption) in men like McAlary — parts of “Lucky Guy” are devoted to stories he got wrong — but the play also reinforces her belief as a young woman that “the only thing worth being (is) a journalist.”

Tom Hanks deserves major kudos for lending his star power to a large scale production — he shares the stage with more than a dozen other actors — that might not have been possible without his presence. He’s a movie star who doesn’t need to spend several months on Broadway doing eight shows a week, but he looks right at home on a stage, and what a wonderful thing to do for his late friend and collaborator.

Joe Meyers

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