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Category: WGA Awards

Writers Guild Awards to be bestowed on Feb. 19

WGA Award

The next Writers Guild Awards will be held Feb. 19 at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York. Here's the breakdown.

Eligibility period for TV long-form, episodic, animation and children’s script categories: First broadcast between Dec. 1, 2010, and Nov. 30, 2011.

Eligibility period for other TV script categories:  First broadcast between Oct. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2011.

Eligibility period for feature films: Exhibited in Los Angeles for at least one week during 2011.

Oct. 14: Deadline for submissions: TV-radio and Paul Selvin Award scripts

Oct. 14: Deadline for submissions: drama, comedy, and new TV series

Oct. 25: Preliminary drama/comedy/new TV series online voting begins

Nov. 18: Deadline for submissions: theatrical and documentary screenplays

Nov. 18: Deadline for submissions: new media writing

Nov. 29: Deadline for preliminary drama, comedy and new TV series online voting

Dec. 1: Deadline for submissions: video game writing

Dec. 2: Preliminary screenplay online voting begins

Dec. 7: Television, radio, news, promotional writing and graphic animation nominees announced

Dec. 31: Theatrical eligibility period ends (original/adapted/documentary screenplays)

Jan. 3: Deadline for preliminary screenplay online voting

Jan. 5: Theatrical and documentary screenplay nominees announced

Jan. 6: Final screenplay and drama, comedy and new TV series online voting begins

Jan. 10-19: "The Contenders": WGA-nominated film screening series, Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills

Jan. 11: New media and video-game writing nominees announced (tentative)

Jan. 27: Deadline for final screenplay and drama/comedy/new TV series online voting

Feb. 8: Deadline for reservations and ticket sales for 2012 WGA L.A. ceremony

Feb. 16: Beyond Words: WGA-nominated screenwriter panel and reception, Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 19:  2012 Writers Guild Awards at Hollywood Palladium and a New York City location to be announced

— Tom O'Neil

Photo: Writers Guild of America

Writers Guild Awards: 'Inception' and 'The Social Network' take screenplay honors [updated]

Christopher Nolan’s "Inception" and Aaron Sorkin’s "The Social Network" took home top screenplay honors at Saturday evening's Writers Guild of America awards.

Nolan’s work beat out the scripts for “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,”  “The Kids Are All Right” and “Please Give” in the original screenplay category.   “The King’s Speech” and  “Another Year” -- contenders for an Academy Award for best original screenplay -- were ineligible in the WGA category under guild rules. 

Sorkin’s script bested those for “127 Hours,” “I Love You Phillip Morris,” “The Town” and “True Grit” in the adapted screenplay race. Oscar nominees such as “Toy Story 3” and “Winter’s Bone” were ineligible in the category under guild rules.

In accepting his award, Nolan touched on the exclusion of big-name films that were kept out of contention under WGA rules.

"Nine years ago I had a lot of success for 'Memento.' It was excluded," he said. "Nothing is more important than recognition from my peers. There were some notables left off the list this year."

"I'm not going to name them, for fear that it boosts their chances at the other show," he said, referring to the Feb. 27 Academy Awards. "I hope next year the person who stands up here can give thanks without qualification."

Mark Boal, who won an Oscar and the WGA award last year for best original screenplay for "The Hurt Locker," was in attendance with "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow; they presented the awards to Nolan and Sorkin.

Sorkin "You can imagine how I feel to get recognition like this," Sorkin said. "I wrote a good screenplay, but David Fincher made a great movie." (Actors Armie Hammer and Andrew Garfield were at the ceremony to root Sorkin on.)

In the documentary film category, the guild honored "Inside Job," produced, written and directed by Charles Ferguson and co-written by Chad Beck and Adam Bolt. In accepting his award for the movie about the financial crisis, Ferguson, clad in jeans and sneakers, quipped, "In the grand tradition of documentary filmmakers, I'm severely underdressed."

Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal presented the Laurel Award for Screen (honoring lifetime achievement in outstanding writing for movies), to Steven Zaillian, writer of films including “Schindler's List” “Gangs of New York” and “Awakenings.”

“Schindler's List” director Steven Spielberg introduced the clip on Zaillian. "He's the most economical writer I know. He writes, short, powerful scenes," Spielberg said. “You’re a young enough guy, Steve, to get this award again in 15 years.”

Accepting his award, the 58-year-old Zaillan said, “I learned to write a lot in college, but not in school. I was an usher in a movie theater in San Francisco, and we played ‘Serpico’ twice a night for two months. I learned more from writing for movies from watching that movie.”

On the TV front, “Murphy Brown” star Candice Bergen presented the show’s creator, Diane English, with the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award, which is bestowed on the WGA member who “has advanced the literature of television through the years, and who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer.”

English received a video tribute from Michael Patrick King, who also wrote for the show.

 “She was the voice of a new woman,” he said. “First time you saw a mad pregnant woman was on ‘Murphy Brown.’ She's very, very current. Not only the topics, but the politics and the conversations were current.”

 “Lifetime achievement, it sounds so wonderful,” English said. “Then self-doubt creeps in: Why are they giving it to me now? Am I supposed to be done? I'm not done. I'm going to be like Lillian Hellman, 110, sitting on my porch in Martha’s Vineyard, with a laptop and a scotch writing something that the producers will say will never get made.”

 She added: “People ask me if I’ll return to television. CBS hear me: If Sarah Palin runs for president, I beg you to bring my show back. Six episodes is all I need.”

The tone of the evening was light, with numerous presenters making jokes about the ceremony, which is less glitzy than other Hollywood guild awards and isn’t shown on TV. A parallel ceremony is held in New York simultaneously for East Coast WGA members.

Martin Short, on stage with Catherine O'Hara to bestow the Best Comedy/Variety TV Series award to Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” joked that there’s “no bigger high than appearing on an untelevised award show. Only difference between you people and pharmaceutical grade morphine is morphine doesn't judge.” 

“Modern Family” was named best comedy series and “Mad Men” was named best drama series. (In a bit of a gaffe, the East Coast and West Coast ceremonies got a bit out of sync in their announcements, and “Mad Men” was announced first in New York and the news spread via Twitter to the Hollywood ballroom.)

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, on hand to present writing awards in the documentary category, joked that the event was "the only award show where [the invite] says 'self-parking in Hollywood & Highland.' Stay classy Hollywood!"

Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Ferguson sang "Write It Gay," a comic tribute to the many TV shows and movies of the past year with gay and lesbian characters or themes. Referencing their own hit show "Modern Family," plus films including "The Kids are All Right," "I Love You Philip Morris" and "Black Swan," the song joked that including gay themes was "how to make it to the top of the critics list."

"As long as there are profits, who would want it straight?" they sang. "Now all we have to do is get rid of Prop. 8. "

Click to the jump for the full list of winners.

Continue reading »

'Modern Family' costars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet to co-host WGA Awards

Modern family 

The "Modern Family" boys are taking their show on the road. The Writers Guild of America announced Wednesday that Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, who play adoptive parents Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker on the hit ABC comedy, will co-host this year's WGA Awards, set for Feb. 5 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.

The duo will follow in the footsteps of television's animated-comedy king, Seth McFarlane, creator and voice for "The Family Guy," who hosted the awards last year.

Seems Ferguson's and Stonestreet's comedy shtick even made it to the media release announcing their involvement. "I'm very fond of Jesse but also very sick of him," said Stonestreet. "Did you know we're not an actual real couple. And I'm tired of people thinking I can't exist without him. Anyway, I look forward to a great evening."

Added Ferguson: "I love Eric so much and any opportunity I have to be around him in the public eye or in private I will jump at. I love that he can't exist without me. I feel like we are an actual couple sometimes. He doesn't know it yet but I'm having a custom three-legged tux made for us later today."

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet in "Modern Family." Credit: Karen Neal / ABC

'The King's Speech' writer David Seidler says he won't skirt the WGA again

David seidlerDavid Seidler, the screenwriter behind "The King's Speech," has no ill will toward the Writers Guild of America  for its omission of his project due to eligibility rules. In fact, this was an outcome he was well aware of from the beginning of his work on "The King's Speech."

"I'm obviously a member of the WGA and I have been for 30 years," says Seidler. "I'm supportive of the guild. I've been on negotiating committees, been nominated three times and won an award. So I'm a union man, as it were."

However, to make this particular movie work, Seidler didn't use his WGA credentials to make his deals. Rather, it all began when Seidler first wrote "The King's Speech." He wrote both a screenplay and a stage play, but since the play was in better shape, the British producers optioned the play, a medium the WGA doesn't handle.

However, Seidler was asked by British producers See Saw Films and Bedlam Productions to write a new screenplay based on the play. Concerned how it might be perceived if a story about a recently deceased British monarch was written by a Hollywood screenwriter, producers wanted to keep all of the production in Britain. So Seidler, who was born in Britain and carries dual citizenship, agreed to pen the screenplay entirely in the United Kingdom and used only Brits to handle his contractual details. 

"The WGA told me that it is perfectly legal [as far as his WGA standing goes] to do the work outside the U.S. if you don't use your American lawyer or agent to negotiate the deal. That's what I did."

He continued, "I will never do it again. Now I know why the guild is there, to protect us, and I didn't get the protection I needed. You don't get residuals on DVD, or all the things the guild has struck and worked and fought for, for many years. You don't get that with the British contract."

You also don't get a WGA nomination. A harsh reality, but one that likely won't affect the film's chances for Oscar recognition, which doesn't follow the strict guild rules.

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: David Seidler. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Derby update: Movies' nominations and award wins so far

Considering the flurry of awards and nominations over the past six weeks, it's easy to be confused about what films were nominated for, and won, what. Below, the current rundown.


Next up: People's Choice Awards (Jan. 5), National Society of Film Critics (Jan. 8), Critics Choice Awards (Jan. 14), Golden Globes (Jan. 16)

NBR = National Board of Review
CC = Critics' Choice
GIFA = Gotham Independent Film Award
GG = Golden Globe
IS = Independent Spirit
LAFCA = Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.
NYFCC = New York Film Critics Circle
PGA = Producers Guild of America
SAG = Screen Actors Guild ensemble award
WGA = Writers Guild of America

"127 Hours" CC, IS, PGA, WGA

"Another Year" NBR (not eligible for WGA)

"Black Swan" CC, GIFA, GG, IS, PGA, SAG, WGA

"Hereafter"  NBR

"Inception" CC, GG, NBR, PGA, WGA

"The Fighter" CC, GG, NBR, PGA, SAG, WGA

"The Kids Are All Right" GG, IS, PGA, SAG, WGA

"The King's Speech" CC, GG, GIFA, NBR, PGA, SAG (not eligible for WGA)

"Shutter Island" NBR

"The Social Network" CC, GG, LAFCA (win), NBR (win), NYFCC (win), PGA, SAG, WGA

"The Town" CC, NBR, PGA, WGA

"Toy Story 3" NBR, PGA (not eligible for WGA or best picture at GG or CC where it was nommed for best animated feature)

"True Grit" CC, NBR, PGA, WGA

"Winter's Bone" CC, GIFA (win), IS, NBR (not eligible for WGA)

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: "The Social Network" (Columbia)

Most surprising snub by the Writers Guild Awards: 'Rabbit Hole'

Rabbit-hole Quite a few high-profile movies are missing from Tuesday's nominations released by the Writers Guild of America, but many aren't eligible because the filmmakers weren't guild signatories or had other issues: "The King's Speech," "Winter's Bone," "Another Year," "Toy Story 3" and "Blue Valentine."

However, other films that were on the eligibility list but didn't make the final lineup were just snubbed, most notably "Rabbit Hole." The film, produced by and starring Nicole Kidman, was adapted to the screen by the same person who won a Pulitzer Prize for penning the celebrated stage version, which was nominated for best play at the Tonys: David Lindsay-Abaire. The celluloid version reaped great reviews (scoring 74 at Metacritic). USA Today said, "'Rabbit Hole' is profound and superbly acted, with a moving script superbly adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire."

Woody Allen has been a guild darling in the past, having been nominated 19 times, including recently for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008), but he was overlooked for "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger." Allen won four WGA Awards: "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989), "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986), "Broadway Danny Rose" (1984) and "Annie Hall" (1977).

Other notable snubs: "Fair Game," "Get Low," "Greenberg" and "Somewhere."

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole."  Credit: Lionsgate


Writers Guild nominations include 'Black Swan,' 'Inception,' '127 Hours'

A surreal film about dreams, a comedy-drama about a modern-day family and a drama about the birth of an online social network were among the nominees Tuesday morning for the Writers Guild of America Awards.

Nominees for best original screenplay are  "Black Swan," screenplay by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin, story by Andres Heinz; "The Fighter," screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; "Inception," written by Christopher Nolan; "The Kids Are All Right," written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg; and "Please Give," written by Nicole Holofcener.

Nominees for adapted screenplay are "127 Hours," screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, based on the book "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" by Aron Ralston; "I Love You Phillip Morris," written by John Requa & Glenn Ficarra, based on the book by Steven McVicker; "The Social Network," screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich; "The Town, " screenplay by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard, based on the novel "Prince of Thieves" by Charles Hogan; and "True Grit," screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis.

Earlier Tuesday morning, the majority of the WGA nominees also were nominated for the Producers Guild of America's Motion Picture Award, save for "Please Give" and "I Love You Phillip Morris."

"Morris," which finally had a long-delayed release this fall and received mixed notices, is probably the biggest surprise among the WGA nominations.

Notably missing from the list are the screenplays to such acclaimed films as "The King's Speech," "Toy Story 3," "Winter's Bone," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Another Year" and "Biutiful" because they are not signatories to the guild's Minimum Basic Guarantee.

The WGA is considered one of the leading Oscar bellwethers, though last year the WGA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were divided. Both groups gave original screenplay to "The Hurt Locker," with the WGA selecting "Up in the Air" for adapted screenplay and "Precious" winning the Oscar in that category.

Nominees Tuesday in the documentary screenplay category are "Enemies of the People," written, directed and filmed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath; "Freedom Riders," written, produced and directed by Stanley Nelson; "Inside Job," produced, written and directed by Charles Ferguson; co-written by Chad Beck and Adam Bolt; "The Two Escobars," written by Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist; and "Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?" written and directed by John Scheinfeld.

 The awards will be handed out Feb. 5 at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.

-- Susan King

Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception." Credit: Warner Bros.


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