Aaron Sorkin to Receive WGA Award for Television Writing

The 'West Wing' and 'Newsroom' creator will get the WGAW's Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award in 2017.
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Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin is getting yet another award.

The Emmy-winning creator of The West Wing and Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Social Network will receive the Writers Guild of America West’s 2017 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for his achievement in television writing. The prolific scribe will be honored at the Feb. 19 ceremony held at The Beverly Hilton.

Named after one of the most influential writers in entertainment history, the award is the WGAW’s highest honor for television writing. Past recipients include David Chase, Larry David and Shonda Rhimes.

“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 A. 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.”

Added Sorkin, "I’m honored to be chosen for this year’s Chayefsky Award and to join such esteemed company. There’s a lot to live up to here."

The acclaimed film and TV writer made his Broadway playwriting debut at the age of 28 with the military courtroom drama A Few Good Men, for which he earned the John Gassner Award for outstanding new American playwright. In 1993, his film adaptation of the play was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, and five Golden Globes, including best screenplay.

The writer-producer later segued into writing for the small screen, creating NBC’s critically beloved political drama The West Wing. The series won nine Emmy Awards in its first season alone. He also created the ABC comedy Sports Night, which garnered eight Emmy noms during its 1998-2000 run. Sports Night was followed by 2006's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, inspired by late-night comedy sketch shows. The series, though short-lived, received five Emmy noms. 

In 2011, Sorkin went back to the big screen with box-office hit The Social Network, for which he won an Academy Award for his screenplay. He also wrote the film adaptation of Moneyball starring Brad Pitt before he returned to TV in 2012, creating HBO's The Newsroom. The series saw star Jeff Daniels win an Emmy for his performance as cable news host Will McCoy, with the show itself nabbing five Emmy noms and a Golden Globe for best drama.

Sorkin continues to move back and forth between film and TV. His most recent feature film, Steve Jobs, based on the Walter Isaacson biography of the late Apple co-founder, landed him a Golden Globe for best screenplay in 2015. Next up, he'll make his directorial debut with Molly’s Game, starring Jessica Chastain. The film, set for a 2017 release, centers on a young Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents.

He'll also be reteaming with NBC for a live presentation of his play A Few Good Men, set to air in 2017 — and he'll also pen a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, set to premiere during the 2017-18 Broadway season.

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