Here today: Alan Zweibel on his collaborative friendship with Billy Crystal | Interviews

I understand the question, but the movie was based on my book. I think Roger was a writer too, so I thought a fellow word came after this writer. It was him and I was embarrassed. I gave him that power.

You have a wonderful story of running into him years later and finally getting some closure.

Roger was the most influential and prominent critic of his time, and he used the word “hate” in the journal about 1,000 times. This is not to say that “North” has not been moved elsewhere. Believe me, he was killed. But it was Roger Ebert, and it was so vicious and so brutal. I always wondered what it would be like if I met him. When I did, it was a decade after “North” so I was done. I got off the couch and walked forward. I was in Chicago on a book tour for my novel, The other Shulman. I have lunch in this restaurant and I look over it and, there it is, there it is.

He was wearing this oversized sweater that had all the fall colors but the worst: burnt orange, green vomit, and yellow baby diarrhea. He got up to go to the men’s room, I apologized and followed him. It was like an out-of-body experience, like, “Damn, I wonder what Al is going to do when he catches up with Roger Ebert?” I had no idea. I went to the men’s room. We were at the sinks. He looked up and I said, “Roger, Alan Zweibel”, and blood is flowing from his face. I took a moment and said, ‘Roger, I just gotta tell you I hate hate hate that sweater you’re wearing. I smiled, he smiled and we both started to laugh, and we shook hands. And that was it.

Looking forward to Billy in your memories Laugh lines, he writes about how exhilarating it was to work on this script with you. He writes: “Here we are, 45 years later, and once again we are coming home from work, and the only difference is that you are driving now!

It’s such a wonderful story. We look at each other and are almost stunned by how lucky this happened. We were two children. He picked me up from my parents, we went to New York, we did our respective sets, and on the way back we listened to the tapes and we gave each other notes. From time to time, we will mention it. He has brothers and I have a brother, but he and I are brothers. The key to this is that we have allowed ourselves to grow, and there is a certain wonder that we have grown the same way. There was no discrepancy where either of us became a bank robber.

As in “Angels with Dirty Faces”.

Exactly where one of the childhood friends goes to the chair. I guess I’ll go to the chair.

“Here Today” is now playing in theaters.

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