Witty, fastidious, driven, warm, independent, ferociously smart—Nora Ephron was every woman's ideal best friend: the sardonic voice of reason who laid bare every detail of her personal life and what it meant to be female. But when the screenwriter (not to mention journalist, novelist, director, playwright and feminist force of nature) died in 2012 due to complications from leukemia, many of her closest friends didn't even know she'd been sick.

In the new HBO documentary Everything Is Copy (debuting March 21), Ephron's son, journalist Jacob Bernstein, tries to reconcile her private fears with her put-it-all-out-there persona, shining a light on the Nora only her dearest allies ever saw. The film's title stems from Ephron's ardent belief that writers should mine their own life for material—and Bernstein embraces his mother's stance as he explores her legacy.

The film unfolds in countless revelations: her parents' troubled marriage, her early days as a mail girl at Newsweek, her riotous dinner parties, her penchant for firing staffers at the drop of a hat (she apparently cut a 14-year-old Barry Diller loose from their high school's newspaper staff), her shattering breakups, her joyful third marriage to author Nicholas Pileggi and the fact that her fussy food-ordering habits inspired the famous "ice cream on the side" scene in When Harry Met Sally...

Ephron inherited the film's title mantra from her mother, who always encouraged her children to take notes—even when she was on her death bed. Both Ephron and her mom believed tragedies could be useful when it came to creating stirring work. With this captivating documentary, Bernstein proves them right.

Ephron with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams at a 2009 screening of Julie & Julia.
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Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

With sons Jacob ad Max circa 1980.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO

The director on the set of Lucky Numbers in 2000.
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Photo: Paramount/Everett Collection


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