Norman Lear To Receive WGA East Honor

The Writers Guild of America, East has selected Norman Lear as the recipient of the Evelyn F. Burkey Award, which recognizes a person or organization whose contributions have brought honor and dignity to writers. He will be honored at the 67th annual Writers Guild Awards in New York City on February 14. From today’s announcement:

A Writers Guild member since 1951, Lear began his career writing sketches for Jack Haley, Martin and Lewis and Martha Raye. In 1959, he created his first television series, THE DEPUTY, a half-hour western starring Henry Fonda. He would create the trailblazing sitcom ALL IN THE FAMILY in 1971. The show ran for nine seasons, won four Emmy Awards for Best Comedy series, received a Peabody Award and was nominated for eleven Writers Guild Awards. Lear followed ALL IN THE FAMILY with a succession of groundbreaking hit shows including MAUDE, SANFORD AND SON, GOOD TIMES, THE JEFFERSONS, ONE DAY AT A TIME and MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN.

In 1967, Lear earned Academy Award and Writers Guild Award nominations for his screenplay DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE. As a producer, his feature film credits include STAND BY ME, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

A lifelong champion of democratic values, Lear’s activism extends beyond his profound influence on bringing social and political commentary to television. In 1980, he formed People For the American Way, a non-profit organization designed to speak out for Bill of Rights guarantees and to monitor violations of constitutional freedoms. In 2000, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism launched The Norman Lear Center as a nonpartisan research and public policy center that studies the social, political, economic and cultural impact of entertainment on the world.

“Over several decades, the Writers Guild, East has presented the Burkey Award to celebrate the achievements of leaders – in the arts or politics – who have advanced the causes of creativity and freedom of speech. This year, by honoring Norman Lear, we choose a man who spans the worlds of both the arts and public affairs,” said Michael Winship, President of the Writers Guild of America, East. “Over his long career as a writer and producer, he has given audiences laughter that entertains and provokes. As a spokesman and advocate, he has been a forthright and resolute defender of civil liberty.”

The award was established in 1978 to honor Evelyn F. Burkey, who helped create the Writers Guild of America, East and served as its executive director until her retirement in 1972. Past recipients of the Burkey Award include James Schamus, Edward Albee, Walter Bernstein, Joan Didion, Claire Labine, Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Arthur Miller, Jacqueline Babbin and Walter Cronkite.

Larry Wilmore (THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE, BLACK-ISH) will serve as host of the Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony, which is sponsored in part by Final Draft, Bananagrams and the New York Observer.

The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, videogames, news, radio, promotional, and graphic animation categories. The awards will be presented at simultaneous ceremonies on Saturday, February 14, 2015, in New York City at the Edison Ballroom and in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.

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