LOS ANGELES – Screenwriters Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth have been named recipients of the Writers Guild of America, West’s 2011 Paul Selvin Award for their screenplay for Fair Game. The award recognizes written work which embodies the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties. The Butterworth brothers, along with other Guild honorees, will be recognized at the 2011 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony this Saturday, February 5, at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel-Grand Ballroom.
“Jez & John-Henry Butterworth’s Paul Selvin Award-winning screenplay for Fair Game expertly conveys both the impact and implications of a contemporary media climate where public and private worlds are often blurred for political gain. Their absorbing script articulates nuances of political and personal speech, while adeptly maintaining a tight focus on the human-scale drama, illuminating the all-too-personal costs when our basic rights are put in jeopardy,” said WGAW President John Wells.
“We think it’s very cool to be given this award. Fair Game and the themes it contains represent a time when the Constitution was under intense pressure. We’re just grateful to everyone involved for the opportunity to be part of a movie that covers such an important period of history. Thanks Writers Guild!” said Fair Game screenwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth.
The Summit Entertainment-River Road Entertainment-Participant Media film, directed by Doug Liman with a screenplay by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth, based on the books The Politics of Truth by Joseph Wilson and Fair Game by Valerie Plame Wilson, offers a thought-provoking, troubling glimpse into the dark corridors of political power. This riveting political thriller is inspired by the experiences of real-life CIA undercover officer Valerie Plame Wilson (portrayed by Academy Award® nominee Naomi Watts), whose career is suddenly destroyed and her marriage strained to the limit when her covert status is exposed via a press leak by a senior State Department official.
As a covert agent in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Program, Valerie leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie’s husband, Joe Wilson (portrayed by Academy Award® winner Sean Penn), is soon drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and instead uses the issue to support the call to war, Joe is compelled to write a scathing New York Times op-ed piece. He outlines his own conclusions, implying that the Bush administration had deliberately manipulated intelligence about WMDs to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which in turn, ignites a firestorm of controversy in the media, in the political arena, and in the couples’ lives.
Jez Butterworth’s other co-screenwriting credits include The Last Legion and Birthday Girl, as well as the telefilms Christmas, and The Night of the Golden Brain, all co-written with his brother Tom Butterworth. His feature directorial debut, Mojo, was based on his own award-winning stage play. Fair Game is John-Henry Butterworth’s first credited screenplay.
The Paul Selvin Award is given to that WGA member whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere, and to whose defense the late Selvin, who served as counsel to the Guild for 25 years, committed professional life. Previous recipients include Allison Cross, Gary Ross, Cynthia Whitcomb, David E. Kelley, Eric Roth, Michael Mann, Jason Horwitch, Don Payne, Robert Eisele & Jeffrey Porro, Dustin Lance Black, and most recently, Anthony Peckham.
The 2011 Writers Guild Awards will be held on Saturday, February 5, 2011, simultaneously at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel-Grand Ballroom in Los Angeles and the AXA Equitable Center in New York City.