It was a very funny, sometimes touching, but mostly uproarious tribute Sunday afternoon at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills. The WGA West and the Writers Guild Foundation along with the Kanter family held a well produced and attended memorial for one of their most illustrious members, Hal Kanter, who passed away in November at age 92. The three-time Emmy winner (and seven time nominee) was also believed to be the only person ever to win all three of the Guild’s prestigious special honors – the Morgan Cox award for service to the WGA, the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award, the Valentine Davies Award.
And why not? As was very evident from this memorial, Kanter was one of the most versatile and productive comedy writers ever. He belonged to a golden era when that was possible. It’s hard to imagine a young writer today forging the same kind of long-lasting career Kanter, and others in his generation, were able to have over the course of seven decades in the business. Writing is tough and unforgiving – and most of its practitioners, particularly in television, are used up and tossed out after several years. It was clear from all the clips and personal anecdotes that the show business Kanter loved and lived in doesn’t exist anymore. Writers who want that kind of longevity in a career probably will have to try another profession. But keeping relevant was never a problem for Hal Kanter who it was noted was still preparing to write another screenplay, even in his 90s. He was also a producer, director, raconteur, master of ceremonies, playwright, author and all around wit. As Kanter said in a clip from one of his many appearances at a WGA awards show banquet, “I was born with a compulsion to amuse. And if my work has inspired anyone to become a comedy writer, I apologize.” (more…)