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Who's Afraid of Ernest Lehman?

An Intelligencer Exclusive . . .


Ernest Lehman's bright idea to publish his diary of the filming of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in last month's Talk magazine has brought him the wrath of some of Hollywood’s most powerful stars. Liz Taylor, George Segal, and Mike Nichols have sent a fuming letter to Tina Brown's glossy, accusing it of "suspending the rules of journalism" for neglecting to give the trio a chance to respond to Lehman's accusations of drinking, fit-throwing, and rampant paranoia on the set nearly 35 years ago. The angry missive, being published in the May issue of Talk, states, "There are people, a lot of them, who could have told you the diary is full of fictions." Lehman -- who was writer-director Nichols's producer on Virginia Woolf -- is also taken to task for his early version of the movie's screenplay, which was "hooted into the wastebasket." Talk did give Lehman a chance to respond to the scathing stars. He apologized "for all the pettiness and inaccuracies I apparently made in my diary 35 years ago," adding, "It was Mike's genius, and that of all others concerned, that gave Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? its power and lasting life." Some may sense sarcasm there, but not Mike Nichols: "Clearly, he saw the point," he says. "He couldn’t defend it."


  • Archive: “Intelligencer
  • From the Mar 30, 2000 issue of New York
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