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Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) are announcing the winners for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen during 2011. Winners will be honored at the 2012 Writers Guild Awards tonight during simultaneous ceremonies at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. Woody Allen won Original Screenplay for his Midnight In Paris. UPDATE: His sister and producer Letty Aronson accepted on his behalf at the WGAE event.
The Descendants won Adapted Screenplay for Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash. All three took the stage at the WGAW event. “I wrote some funny lines for the woman in the coma that Nat and Alexander didn’t like,” said Rash.
Faxon recognized The Groundlings improv theater for fostering his talent. Payne directed his acknowledgement to The Descendants author Kaui Hart Hemmings who was sitting in the audience: “Nice thing about doing adaptation is inhabiting a story that we never lived in. Thank you to the novelists for letting us in your life.”
Breaking Bad‘s Vince Gilligan accepted the television Drama Series honor saying, “We wouldn’t have a show without Bryan Cranston.”
The writers of Modern Family won for Comedy Series, and Steven Levitan exclaimed, “We are concerned that people are sick of us [winning]. Perhaps you can focus your backlash elsewhere. As such, we asked our writers to each say why they don”t feel like winners tonight.” At which point a number of Modern Family scribes described their deepest regrets:
“I worry about the future happiness of my children, particularly the fat one.”
“I write a show about relationships, half my money goes to my first wife, the other goes to the second.”
“I have 2 years left in this business, especially after they find out my real age.”
Levitan capped off, “I created the show Stacked and have to live with that.”
Actress and comedienne Rachel Dratch hosted the East Coast WGA show. At the start of the LA event, a who’s who of the film and TV industry arrived. “Welcome to Nerd Prom,” host Zooey Deschanel greeted the guests. “Male writers, you are so hot with your minds and plaid shirts. Hit on me.” She closed the show by saying, “To all the writers who brought their parents, I hope this is enough to convince them you have real jobs.”
Soon after Deschanel closed the show by saying. “To all the writers who brought
their parents, I hope this is enough to convince them you have real jobs.”
Presenters included Tom Selleck, Lisa Kudrow, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. In front seats are Luck creator David Milch, Oscar-nominated writer John Logan also up for a WGA nom for adapted screenplay of Hugo, Mission: Impossible 4 director Brad Bird, and Young Adult star Patton Oswalt fresh from his hosting duties last night at the ACE Eddie Awards. And Deadline Hollywood got a shout-out.
“Get ready for a bunch of F-bombs: it’s the Children’s Episodic Award” said Deschanel introducing the pair of presenters of the award, “Mad Men” Creator Matt Weiner and the show’s child star Kiernan Shipka. Shipka told Weiner that she wants to “sink her teeth into meatier roles,” and then killed the crowd with Faye Dunaway’s “No wire hangers EVER” monologue from Mommie Dearest. After she ended the speech to laughter and applause, Weiner remarked to her, “Where were you when I was on Becker?”
Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation and the show’s creator Michael Schur, presented comedy variety series. The two, who met on SNL, recalled their ‘woeful’ writing experiences there — how they spent hours doing Lorne Michaels imitations and crying how their parents never respected their life decesions.
The Honorary Service – Morgan Cox Award went to Patric M. Verrone. “I don’t need to tell you who he is,” said Michael Reiss of The Simpsons writing staff. “Pat is a 2-time WGA president. Thanks to him, he got me in the union, a health pension, and a copy of Written By which I read from the mailbox to the trash can. He is a gifted artist and goes to church every Sunday. Which is more than you creeps.” Best known as the leader during the WGA strike, Reiss noted how Verrone “looks like Hitler”. Verrone picked up on the joke during his acceptance speech. “I want to thank the anonymous commentators on Deadline Hollywood who compared me to Hitler,” Verrone said. “To them I want to say — well, I don’t want to say.”
The Help screenwriter-director Tate Taylor accepted the Special Achievement – Paul Selvin Award and politely spoke out against those naysayers who criticized him and The Help book author Kathryn Stocket —
two white people — for writing a story about the African American experience of 1963. “It is a person’s right to tell a story,” said Taylor. “The Help was directed at those women in our lives. My desire to write The Help, came from my love of Carol Lee, the [African American] woman who helped raise me with my broke mother. I wrote The Help for them. When someone writes from love, truth, and honor, they have a right to tell a story. We lose if we give into society’s criticisms.”
Prior to Eric Roth receiving the Laurel Award For Screen, presented to him by Milch, a personal video clip from David Fincher played. “I think it is important to keep Eric Roth focused on the conversation at hand. He’s a procrastinator like no other. Eric, if it is wrong for a man to love another man than I have nothing right to say to you in winning this award.” In accepting the award, Eric Roth recalled the last time he came to the Palladium: “It was for a strike meeting. My car was stolen, and there was the screenplay that I had just written left in it… When the car was recovered, the cops said it was used in a bank robbery. All the stuff was stolen out of my car except for that screenplay. There was a note left onot from the robbers that said, ‘Characters can be stronger’.”
Following a thirtysomething clip, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick accepted the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award For Television and warmly recalled the joys of writing together, having first worked on the ABC show Family. Herskovitz reflected, “When you are a 27, you can’t imagine a career. And at 57 you can’t remember it.” Zwick said, “There’s a lot to be said about writing with someone else. It has allowed us to do together what we are afraid to do alone.”
MOTION PICTURE WINNERS
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings (Fox Searchlight)
Better This World, Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega (Loteria Films)
Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett (AMC)
Modern Family, Written by Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Carol Leifer, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Brad Walsh, Ilana Wernick, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker (ABC)
(TIE) “Box Cutter” (Breaking Bad), Written by Vince Gilligan (AMC)
(TIE) “The Good Soldier” (Homeland), Written by Henry Bromell (Showtime)
“Caught in the Act” (Modern Family), Written by Steven Levitan & Jeffrey Richman (ABC)
Homeland – Written by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Gideon Raff, Meredith Stiehm (Showtime)