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'Trumbo' Scribe John McNamara To Receive WGAW's Paul Selvin Award

Trumbo scripter John McNamara will be this year’s recipient of the WGA’s Paul Selvin Award, which honors writers whose work “embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil right liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere.” McNamara will be recognized, along with other honorees, at the 2016 Writers Guild Awards L.A. ceremony on Saturday, February 13, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.

WGA AWardsWGA West president Howard Rodman said that though the guild has given the award since 1989, “It might as well have been purpose-built for John McNamara’s Trumbo. In shining light on a dark corner of our history, while at the same time illuminating Dalton Trumbo from within, John McNamara has both illustrated and embodied the importance of courageous writing.”

Ironically, Trumbo was kicked out of the guild’s forerunner – the old Screenwriters Guild – in 1947 after he was sent to prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committees’ probe of suspected communists in Hollywood. While blacklisted, he continued to write screenplays using fake names and fronts – most notably Roman Holiday and The Brave Ones. He wasn’t readmitted to the guild until he helped break the blacklist in 1960 when his real name was included in the screen credits of two films that year – Exodus and Spartacus. In show of solidarity, President-elect John F. Kennedy crossed a picket line of protestors to watch Spartacus in a Washington, DC theater.

“I want to thank the Writers Guild of America, West for stunning me with surprise and filling me with gratitude,” McNamara said. “This is an award shared by my band of brothers and sisters, we few, we happy few. More on those folks soon. The movie Trumbo exists mainly because I met several blacklisted screenwriters while I was a student at NYU. Arthur Laurents, Waldo Salt and Ring Lardner, Jr. eloquently and selflessly brought that dark time to life for me, while Ian McLellan Hunter painted a both ennobling and warty portrait of his good friend Dalton Trumbo. In the same way I share this award with biographer Bruce Cook, ShivHans, Bleecker Street, director Jay Roach and the crew, Michael London and our fellow producers, Bryan Cranston and the whole cast, I share it with my four fellow writers whose words first convinced me this story needed telling. A story that obviously wouldn’t exist without Dalton Trumbo and the improbably brave stand he and his family took against a perfect storm of repression, fighting for that first American freedom: the right to be wrong in any political season, out loud, without fear and in glorious Technicolor.”

    1. Not only is TRUMBO a terrible script (and basically a Lifetime movie) but the brilliant writer WALTER BERNSTEIN has never been recognized…not only for his body of work but for his original screenplay “THE FRONT” which is an incredible piece of work about the blacklist.

  1. Wonderful and so well deserved!!! It truly should have been nominated for Oscar too. It’s a GREAT film and I’ve seen it more than once! Incredible acting, script, music and story.

  2. Trumbo the film, I do not judge the fine actors nor their performance in this make-believe film, but I take exception that there is value or a substantive message learned from untold truth, innuendo and the manipulation of facts by the writer, producers and the director of this film.

    Aside from the political debate, the movie Trumbo misrepresents the avarice conniving men that Trumbo and the King Bros were. Trumbo and the King Bros were all about the money and getting attention to that end.

    Trumbo was not a hero, he was a grandstander who mislead and toyed with the media about many things and the most important among them, to me, was his plagiarism of my father’s work.

    Trumbo lied about being the original author of the screenplay that the 1956 film, “The Brave One” was based.

    My father, Juan Duval, was the author of the original screenplay which the film “The Brave One” was based and awarded the Oscar for “Best Original Story”. My father died before film production and the King Bros and Trumbo unashamedly took advantage of it.

    Before former Director of the Academy of Arts and Sciences Bruce Davis retired, he told me that because of the documentation that I provided him, he was inclined to believe that my father wrote the original screenplay which the movie, “The Brave One” was based.

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