James L. Brooks, the three-time Oscar winner with writing credits including Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets, and the Emmy-winning co-creator behind TV series including The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi, will receive WGA West’s 2018 Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement. The career film honor will be bestowed February 11 at the WGA Awards’ Los Angeles ceremony at the Beverly Hilton.
“James L. Brooks looms large for writers in our business,” WGAW president David A. Goodman said in announcing the honor. “His movie scripts walk a razor’s edge; they are comedies that are tinged with tragedy, they have moments of absurdity mixed with sharply observed truths. The beauty of his work is that you never hear the writer behind it, his characters talk like real people and his scripts feel like life. We at the WGAW Board of Directors consider it our honor to give him this award.”
Brooks, a WGA member since 1965, launched his career in the mid-1960s as a CBS News writer in New York before moving to L.A. and seguing into scripted fare, with early credits including My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show and That Girl, which earned him his first WGA Episodic Comedy nomination in 1968. He went on to create or co-create, write, and produce series including Mary Tyler Moore and its spinoffs Rhoda, Lou Grant and Phyllis, and later Taxi.
His TV work earned him in 1988 the guild’s Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement, which he shared with his TV writing partner Allan Burns.
Brooks’ first feature film script was for 1979’s Starting Over, based on the novel by Dan Wakefield. After that came adapting Larry McMurtry’s Terms of Endearment, which scored 11 Oscar nominations and earned Brooks three Academy Awards: Best Writing, Best Director and Best Picture. He wrote and was nominated for screenwriting Oscar for 1987’s Broadcast News based on his experiences as a news writer. His film writing and co-writing credits include As Good As It Gets, Spanglish, How Do You Know and The Simpsons Movie.
Via his Gracie Films, he produced films including Say Anything, The War of the Roses, Big and Jerry Maguire, and most recently he produced 2016’s The Edge of Seventeen. On the TV side came producing credits like The Critic and The Tracy Ullman Show. He also is a co-developer and executive producer of Fox’s The Simpsons, the longest-running scripted series on TV to date.
The Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement is awarded to a WGA member who has advanced the literature of motion pictures and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the screenwriter. Past recipients include Elaine May, Oliver Stone, Harold Ramis, David Mamet, Robert Towne, Tom Stoppard, Paul Mazursky, Lawrence Kasdan, Eric Roth and Steven Zaillian.
Brooks also won the WGA East’s Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence in 2006.