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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.

Tabloid Titans

There was a time not long ago when millions of New Yorkers learned something for the first time when they opened their morning newspaper.

And a few of the people who wrote for the city’s tabloids in the late 20th century were themselves larger than life, such as the late New York Post reporter Nora Ephron (1941-2012), who would go on to fame and fortune in Hollywood, and the late New York Daily News columnist Mike McAlary, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the infamous Abner Louima case. McAlary died of cancer in 1998. He was 41 years old.

Given their shared newspaper pedigree, it is fitting that Ephron’s final script was the Broadway play, Lucky Guy, which is in previews this month and opens on Monday, April 1, at Manhattan’s Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th St. Tom Hanks portrays the Lucky Guy, McAlary, who made a name for himself in the 1980s and 1990s with his sensational stories about police corruption. His work appeared in the New York Post, New York Newsday and the Daily News. McAlary, his wife, Alice (played by Maura Tierney) and their four children had a home in Suffolk County’s Bellport. Indeed, a significant part of Lucky Guy takes place there.

One of Lucky Guy’s characters is Jim Dwyer of The New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist in his own right. In an e-mail exchange with me last week, Dwyer offered an observation about Ephron’s script (“I’ve read it, and think it’s great”), what it’s like to see yourself portrayed on a Broadway stage and how he met McAlary.

“I’ve met Michael Gaston [the actor playing Dwyer] and he seems like much too nice a guy, and far too good looking, to portray me. But I’m not going to fight with that,” Dwyer wrote.

“The level of work that he [Gaston] and all the actors are putting in is very impressive; I suppose this goes on all the time in theater, but getting a little bit of the backstage look has been a big eye-opener.”

“We met at New York Newsday in the late 1980s and became very good friends,” Dwyer continued. “He [McAlary] went on to write columns at the Daily News; I was writing columns for New York Newsday, and then later, with him, at the News.  We would speak every day, practically, and help each other with phone numbers and sources. Mike was the premier reporter of his generation on New York City police. He broke more stories, helped bring about more reform, and had more front pages than anyone. The play, at least on paper and I’m betting on stage, does full justice to his humor, his humanity, his flaws and his greatness. It’s an amazing story of a guy who flew high, had a tragic setback, but then got back up to expose an atrocity and win the Pulitzer Prize just before he died.”

Beyond introducing McAlary to a new generation of New Yorkers, Hanks also is being asked to generate on stage the kind memorable performances he gave in Ephron-directed movies such as Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). Hanks’ love interest in both of those films was Meg Ryan. Ephron, along with David Ward and Jeff Arch, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle.  

In fact, I sense that Ephron, McAlary and Hanks share the same worldview and dark humor of the Sleepless in Seattle character who, after hearing someone talk excitedly about a budding romance, was asked “What do they call it when everything intersects?” Their answer: The Bermuda Triangle.