LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Writer and film director Nora Ephron, known for work on movies such as "When Harry Met Sally," is gravely ill after battling leukemia, according to media reports on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for her agency, Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency, declined to comment on reports that the 71-year-old Ephron is near death.

The Washington Post published a headline saying that the writer had already died, but that could not be confirmed.

Entertainment news publication TheWrap.com cited Nicholas Latimer, vice president and director of publicity at Ephron's publisher Random House, as saying "she is still very much alive." But he added, "things are not good."

New York based gossip columnist Liz Smith told The Hollywood Reporter that she had spoken to Ephron's son, Jacob Bernstein, and the family is already planning a funeral.

"I was told this morning that she was dying, but I can't confirm it," The Hollywood Reporter quoted Smith as saying.

ABC News posted a story on its website citing sources close to the family as telling the TV network Ephron is "gravely ill."

Ephron, 71, known for screenplays "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle" and more recently, "Julie & Julia," which she also directed, had not publicly addressed suffering from any illness in recent months.

During a long career, Ephron has written for newspapers and magazines. She published books and essays, but is perhaps best known for her work in movies.

She was nominated for three Academy Awards for writing romantic the comedies "Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle" and drama "Silkwood."

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Philip Barbara)