cover image Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television, and Beyond

Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television, and Beyond

Joyce Chopra. City Lights, $17.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-0-87286-868-7

Documentarian Chopra offers an insider’s perspective and settles some scores in this shrewd memoir of her life in the film and TV industries. Born in 1936, the Brooklyn native first opened a jazz café in Cambridge, Mass. (Joan Baez played there), but pivoted to pursue moviemaking, returning to New York and an apprenticeship editing Primary, a documentary following JFK. Her amiable marriage to an MIT engineer collapsed after an affair with novelist (and subsequent husband) Tom Cole. Her later pregnancy was the basis of the autobiographical film Joyce at 34, and her film Smooth Talk, starring Laura Dern, was adapted by Cole from a Joyce Carol Oates short story. Chopra was courted by Stephen Spielberg and James Brooks, but conflicts with producers Sydney Pollack and, later, Diane Keaton, along with negative media coverage (which she disputes), made her and Cole “overnight pariahs in Hollywood.” She turned to TV, but found sexism thwarted her (on Law & Order, she felt like “a female intruder”). Despite it all, she writes she “achieved her dream,” applauding the #MeToo movement (Weinstein was her “ceaseless bully”). Brisk and unsentimental, Chopra writes with fierce intent to set the record straight. Much like Anne Theroux’s The Year of the End, this is a revealing and retributive glimpse behind the curtain. Agent: Rebecca Nagle, Wylie Agency. (Nov.)