Unlike many of her peers, Lena Dunham doesn’t score buzz for celebrity feuds, leaked sex tapes, or alleged stints in rehab. Instead, the Oberlin-educated actress, producer, director, and writer is known for clever quips, unapologetic feminism, a signature style, her film and TV projects (most recently, she’s producing a documentary about a tailoring company for the LGBT community), and an endearing, brilliantly articulated honesty. In short, she’s the latest in a long line of great Hollywood dames. So it’s no surprise that Lady Dunham has plenty of mentors – from Judd Apatow to her mom, the artist Laurie Simmons, to the late Nora Ephron. In fact, when the writer and director died in 2012, Dunham’s New Yorker remembrance (Nora’s advice about her love problems: “You can’t meet someone until you’ve become what you’re becoming”) was so loving and clear that it launched her own career as an author. To celebrate the publication of her memoir cum Helen Gurley-inspired advice manual Not That Kind of Girl, then, let’s consider a fantasy Dunham remake of “Heartburn,” the 1986 adaptation of Ephron’s thinly disguised account of her divorce from Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.
Though that film boasted a terrific premise and an astonishing pedigree – Ephron herself wrote the screenplay; Oscar-winning Mike Nichols directed; Oscar-winning Meryl Streep starred as food writer Rachel (the Ephron stand-in); Oscar-winning Jack Nicholson played columnist Mark (the Bernstein stand-in); Carly Simon sang the soundtrack; and the supporting cast included Jeff Daniels, Stockard Channing, Catherine O’Hara, Oscar-winning Kevin Spacey (who plays a subway mugger in one of his first-ever screen roles), and Oscar-winning Milos Forman – it was a mixed bag at best. The problem lay mostly with Nichols. With respect to his legendary wit (check out his early standup with writer Elaine May), it didn’t quite match the sensibilities of good-girl absurdist Nora. On the other hand, Dunham’s combination of excellent manners and wacky irreverence – not to mention her family background of well-off creatives – mirrors Ephron perfectly. Continue Reading →