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SCRIBE CELEBRATIONS: 57th ANNUAL WRITERS GUILD AWARDS

 
By Liisa Kyle


The 57th Writer's Guild Awards were held February 19 in a simultaneous, bi-coastal fête befitting the bifurcated union. While the WGA-West gathered in the rain-soaked Hollywood Palladium for a lavish gala, their counterparts in the WGA-East celebrated in New York's Pierre Hotel.

Fittingly, what set this event apart from the myriad other award shows was the writing. "This is a show that's very tersely written, very very acerbic, very funny," observed L.A. host John O'Hurley, best known for his role as J. Peterman on Seinfeld. "This is the greatest party in town. That's way they still don't have it on TV... 'cause they can't!"

It was an evening to pay homage to writers and writing: Declaring himself a "card-carrying member of the Writer's Guild," comic George Lopez noted, "Without writing, it's just a bunch of beautiful people standing around."

Actor Dennis Haysbert (24, Far from Heaven) confessed that he, too, dabbles in the craft. "There's a script that I'm trying to re-write right now with a partner of mine, that I own the rights to. So I have a great deal of respect for writers."

Actress Betty White, a veteran of many award shows declared the WGA event particularly special, "because we're honouring Susan Harris." The esteemed showrunner of Soap, Benson, Golden Girls and Empty Nest was presented with the Paddy Cheyefsky Laurel Award for Television.

Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and his fiancée Alexandra Jamieson were anticipating a fun respite at the WGA gala. "This one we have no pressure...We already won [WGA Award for the Best Feature Documentary] the other night, so this is going to be one where we're can actually just come, have a good time, be with our friends who are here and enjoy it."

Excitement was understandably high among the nominees. "I'm just truly happy to be here," said Keir Pearson, former Olympic rower and, with Terry George, co-writer of Hotel Rwanda. "I know everyone says that but being my first nomination, it's really such an honour. With the film, we need all the publicity we can get so if this helps people to go see the film, I think it's a worthwhile cause."

"It's always great to have the work recognized," agreed John Logan, whose credits include The Aviator, Last Samarai, Any Given Sunday and RKO 281). "Particularly at the Writers' Guild, to be recognized by your colleagues -- by the people who are in the trenches with you -- there's nothing quite like it, in terms of personal fulfillment. So I'm delighted and proud to be here with these great writers."

In addition to Mr. Pearson and Mr. Logan, other contenders for the prestigious Original Screenplay category included Bill Condon for Kinsey, Charlie Kaufman for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Scrubs star Zach Braff for his break-out indie gem Garden State.

Prior to the show Zach Braff confessed, "I love Eternal Sunshine [of the Spotless Mind]. Present company excluded, I thought that was the best film of the year, so I'm rooting for it."

Mr. Braff was not alone: When the awards were announced, the Best Original Screenplay went to genius Charlie Kaufman for his astonishing script for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Based on a story by Mr. Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth, this sci-fi love story plumbs relationships in an entirely fresh and compelling way.

Best Adapted Screenplay was also a popular choice among Guild members, going to Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor for Sideways. Based on the novel by Rex Pickett, this script dissects love, friendship, mid-life crisis...and the crazy way onophiles describe wine. This quirky collaboration nudged out other nominees Tina Fey (Mean Girls), Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby), Richard Linklater & Julia Delpy & Ethan Hawke (Before Sunset) as well as Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries).

Among the television winners, Best Episodic Drama went to Debora Cahn for her West Wing episode entitled "The Supremes."

Best Episodic comedy was a tie between Arrested Development's Jim Vallely & Mitch Hurwitz (for "Pier Pressure") and Malcolm in the Middle's Neil Thompson (for "Ida's Boyfriend").

Best Animation episode was awarded to Ian Maxtone-Graham for his episode of The Simpson's entitled, "Catch ‘Em if You Can."

HBO projects garnered both Long Form awards. Best Original teleplay when to Peter Silverman and Robert Caswell for Something the Lord Made while acclaimed playwright Tony Kushner won for Best Adapted Teleplay for Angels in America, based on his play.

A complete listing of all the nominees and awards is online at www.wga.org.
 
 
Liisa Kyle is the Managing Editor of HGEN: In the Loop and is  a prize-winning international journalist
who has written for every major newspaper in her native Canada.


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