Feature Precious, series Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie and movie Temple Grandin were among the winners at the 36th Humanitas Prizes awarded today at a luncheon in Beverly Hills. The monetary prizes recognize writers whose work “entertain, engage and enrich the viewing public.” Geoffrey Fletcher won the feature film category for Precious, competing in a field that included Oscar winner The Hurt Locker. There were double winners in both the 30-minute and 60-minute categories. Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd won in the half-hour category for the Modern Family pilot that also earned them an Emmy, along with Liz Brixius, Linda Wallem and Evan Dunsky for the pilot of Nurse Jackie. There was one pretty surprising nominee in the category, TBS’ lowbrow sitcom Meet the Browns. Once again, Levitan accepted solo, thanking his “attention-averse” partner Lloyd, who also didn’t attend the Emmys. At the Humanitas, Glee is considered in the drama category, where Murphy won for the Wheels episode, while The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King won the second award in the hourlong category for the series’ pilot. “Here are the people we’d like to thank – Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford,” said Robert King, whose show centers on the wife of a politician who resigned over an affair. In introducing the Sundance category, House creator David Shore talked about the “two reasons we write: to explore the human conditions and for the money.” Anne Rosellini and Debra Granik won for Winter’s Bone.
The keynote address by Nina Tassler turned into a roast of the CBS Entertainment president by comedy writer Ali LeRoi who introduced her. He focused on “the impact of (Tassler’s) failures.” “When she fails, she fails big,” LeRoi said. He suggested that in creating Glee, Murphy might have been influenced by another music series set in a small town, CBS’ short-lived Viva Laughlin. “Nina knew people wanted (a musical series), she just didn’t know they wanted it 3 years later, 20 years younger and 7 states over.”
The other “monumental catastrophe” under Tassler’s watch – reality series “Kid Nation”. “In 2007, she launched it against the advise of parents, experts and pretty much the entire nation. She held her ground… People love reality and they hate other people’s kids. So why not watch a reality show about bad things happening to other parents’ kids?… Everybody knew it was crazy, she proved that it was crazy.”
When she took the podium, Tassler scolded LeRoi for not mentioning Moonlight among her failures. “What can I say, we were ahead of our time,” she quipped. Tassler went on to thank writers “on behalf of all executives for being wonderfully and righteously stubborn and have the character to stand up for what they believe” and, in the spirit of the awards, contended that “executives can be considered useful part of humanity.”
Other winners included Christopher Monger and William Merritt Johnson for Temple Grandin, Jennifer Arnold in the documentary category for A Small Act and recipients of the student fellowships Adam Simon, Sarah Cornwell and Clay Keller.