The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin will be honored with the WGA West’s 2017 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement. Sorkin will receive the award, given in recognition of his career and body of work, at the WGAW’s 2017 WGA Awards West Coast ceremony February 19 at the Beverly Hilton.
“Starting with Sports Night, through The West Wing, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, The Newsroom and beyond, Aaron Sorkin has changed the language of television. His knowing, incisive, witty, brave, deeply intelligent writing has raised the bar for the rest of us, defined the notion of behind-the-scenes, and has in the process reminded us, again and again, of the special responsibilities that accrue to our profession,” said WGAW President Howard Rodman. “For as long as people walk and talk – at the same time, of course – Sorkin’s dialogue will be remembered. But more crucially, we want to remember the ways he has always encouraged us, as humans and as citizens, to heed our better angels.”
Sorkin made his Broadway playwriting debut at age 28 with the military courtroom drama A Few Good Men, for which he received the John Gassner Award as Outstanding New American Playwright. The following year saw the debut of his off-Broadway play, Making Movies.
In 1993, Sorkin’s film adaptation A Few Good Men was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and five Golden Globes, including best screenplay. He followed that success screenplays for 1993’s Malice (co-written by Sorkin and Scott Frank, story by Sorkin and Jonas McCord) and 1995’s The American President, which earned him WGA and Golden Globe screenplay nominations.
In the late ’90s, Sorkin segued into writing for television, where he created and produced NBC’s White House political drama series The West Wing, which won nine Primetime Emmy Awards in its first season alone, going on to win a total of 26 Primetime Emmys. For his work on the series, Sorkin twice received the Peabody Award and the Humanitas Prize, as well as three Television Critics Association Awards, three Producers Guild Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a WGA Award.
During that same decade, Sorkin also created, wrote, and produced the ABC comedy series Sports Night, which won the Humanitas Prize, the Television Critics Association Award, and garnered eight Emmy nominations during its 1998-2000 primetime run. In 2006, inspired by late-night comedy TV, Sorkin created Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, which offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a live sketch comedy show. The series received five Emmy nominations and a WGA Award nomination for New Series.
In 2011, Sorkin won the Academy Award, Writers Guild Award, Golden Globe, Critics Choice, BAFTA, and USC Scripter Awards for best adapted screenplay for The Social Network. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, was named Best Drama at the Golden Globes, and appeared on over 350 critics’ lists of the top ten films of 2010.
Sorkin’s next feature was the 2011 film adaptation of Moneyball (Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin, Based on the Book by Michael Lewis), the true-story sports drama, focusing on Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s shrewd strategy to utilize computer-generated sabermetric analysis to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget, which resulted in consecutive playoff appearances in 2002 and 2003. The screenplay earned Sorkin a Critics Choice Award and New York Film Critics Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and also received four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Sorkin returned to television in 2012, creating the HBO series, The Newsroom. Set behind the scenes of a contemporary cable news show, the ensemble drama starred Jeff Daniels, who won a Primetime Emmy Award for “Best Actor” for his performance as “Will McAvoy” on the show. During its 2012-14 three-season run, the show also was honored with a Critics Choice Television Award, five Primetime Emmy nominations, as well as Golden Globe, Writers Guild and a DGA nomination.
Sorkin’s most recent feature film was 2015’s Steve Jobs, based on the Walter Isaacson biography of the late Apple co-founder. His screen adaptation garnered him a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay, as well as WGA and Critics Choice Award adapted screenplay nominations. Sorkin’s other screenwriting credits include the 2007 film, Charlie Wilson’s War, which earned him another Golden Globe nomination for Best Screenplay. Sorkin also returned to Broadway in 2007 with a stage production of The Farnsworth Invention.
Next up, Sorkin has adapted and will make his directorial debut with Molly’s Game, a feature film based on the personal memoir by Molly Bloom. The upcoming film from Mark Gordon Co and eOne stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner and is set for release in 2017 via STX.
Additionally, Sorkin will be returning to NBC with a live presentation of his own Broadway play, A Few Good Men, which is slated to air in 2017. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are executive producing along with Sorkin.
In February, it was announced that Sorkin will pen a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s iconic American novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, set to premiere during the 2017-2018 Broadway season.