Humanitas bestows noms on 28 writers

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Writers on the films "Amazing Grace," "Freedom Writers" and "Venus" along with scribes on a trio of medical-themed TV series -- NBC's "Scrubs" and "ER" and Fox's "House" -- are among the finalists for the 33rd annual Humanitas Prize.

The prize, which rewards film and TV writers whose work "honestly explores the complexities of the human experience and sheds light on the positive values of life," is handed out in eight categories, each of which carries a monetary prize of varying amounts. Twenty-eight writers were named finalists this year.

In the feature-film category, which bestows a $25,000 prize, the finalists are Steven Knight for Samuel Goldwyn Films/Roadside Attractions' "Amazing Grace"; Richard LaGravenese, who wrote the screenplay for Paramount Pictures' "Freedom Writers"; and Hanif Kureishi for Miramax Films' "Venus."

Finalists in the Sundance feature-film category, which offers a $10,000 prize, are Newton I. Aduaka & Alain-Michel Blanc (writers) and Newton I. Aduaka (story) for "Ezra," Adrienne Shelly for Fox Searchlight Pictures' "Waitress" and Salvatore Stabile for "Where God Left His Shoes."

The TV finalists in the 30-minute category, which carries a $10,000 prize, are "Scrubs" writer Bill Callahan, who will compete with Jennifer Crittenden, who wrote the "Oh God, Yes" episode of CBS' "The New Adventures of Old Christine," and Rob Lotterstein, who wrote the "Kenny Doesn't Live Here Anymore" episode of Fox's "The War at Home."

Cited in the 60-minute TV category, which bestows a $15,000 prize, were "ER" writers R. Scott Gemmill & David Zabel for the episode "There Are No Angels Here" and "House" writer Doris Egan for the episode titled "House vs. God." They will vie with Eli Attie & John Wells for the "Election Day -- Part II" episode of NBC's "The West Wing."

Two HBO Films programs and a Lifetime movie earned spots in the 90-minute TV category, which offers a $25,000 prize. The finalists in that category are Peter Morgan for HBO Films' "Longford," Abi Morgan for HBO Films' "Tsunami, the Aftermath -- Part II" and Nancey Silvers for Lifetime's "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy."

In the children's animation category, the winner will receive $25,000. The finalists are Sindy McKay, Dennis Haley & Marcy Brown for PBS' "Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks" for the episode titled "The Gift," Evelina Fernandez for PBS' "Maya & Miguel" for the episode "Give Me a Little Sign" and Nadine van der Velde for Nick Jr.'s "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends" for the episode "The Prince, the Princess and the Bee."

Two Disney Channel movies were cited in the children's live-action category, which also has a $25,000 prize. The finalists in that category are Doreen Spicer and Regina Hicks & Karin Gist for "Jump In!" and Anna Sandor for the teleplay for "Molly: An American on the Home Front."

Meanwhile, Jonny Mais of the USC School of Cinematic Arts has been named as the recipient of the David & Lynn Angell Fellowship in Comedy Writing, worth $10,000, for his spec script of Showtime's "Weeds" titled "Pot Chocolate."

A total of $145,000 in prize money will be handed out at the annual Humanitas Prize luncheon, taking place June 26 at the Hilton Universal. As previously announced, writer Larry Gelbart will receive the 2007 Kieser Award and deliver the keynote address at the luncheon.
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