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WGA awards 'Locker,' 'Up in the Air'

'The Cove' writer wins for documentary screenplay

Mark Boal was handed the Writers Guild of America award for best original screenplay Saturday night for his explosive drama script, "The Hurt Locker."

The journalist-turned-movie-scribe spun his harrowing time embedded with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team in Baghdad in 2004 into a thriller directed by DGA award winner Kathryn Bigelow.

Adding to their cache of frequent-awards miles, "Up in the Air" writers Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner flew off with the WGA's adapted screenplay honor. The pair has already taken home the Golden Globe for best screenplay and several critics' honors. Reitman was nommed by the WGA once before, in 2007, for his adaptation of Christopher Buckley's novel "Thank You for Smoking."

The major television writing awards went to usual suspects "Mad Men" for drama series and "30 Rock" for comedy series. It was the second win in a row for Matthew Weiner's staff and third for Tina Fey's.

"Network TV is seen by so few people" that it is "as precious as live theater," Fey said while accepting the award in New York. "Our special moment may not last forever."

The writing staff of "Modern Family" danced away with the award for best new series (which "Mad Men" won in 2008). Writers of the "30 Rock" episode "Apollo, Apollo" and the "Modern Family" pilot split the award for episodic comedy, while writers of the "House" two-parter "Broken" won for episodic drama.

Mark Monroe was awarded the documentary screenplay award for "The Cove." The nonfiction writing nominees included Michael Moore for "Capitalism: A Love Story"; Robert Stone for "Earth Days"; Chris Rock, Jeff Stilson, Lance Crouther and Chuck Sklar for "Good Hair"; and Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman for "Soundtrack for a Revolution." Monroe was nominated in 2007 for his documentary script "Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos."

The WGA's annual awards for film, TV, radio, news, promotional, video-game, animation and variety-show writing were presented Saturday in simultaneous ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and the Millennium Broadway Hotel's Hudson Theatre in New York City. "Family Guy" mastermind Seth MacFarlane hosted the West Coast show, while "Curb Your Enthusiasm" regular Susie Essman hosted back east.

Wearing a James Bond-like white jacket, MacFarlane opened his show with a song-and-dance number that took profane aim at non-scripted television and the quip that acceptance speeches would be atypically brief because "as we all know, writers have only themselves to thank." For her part, Essman referenced a WGA Midwest show running simultaneously "at the Motel 6 in Duluth," before addressing new media's effect on the industry.

"Streaming media streams money away from writers in real time," she quipped.

Among the presenters in L.A. were Judd Apatow and Jason Segel, who deadpanned that he was "awestruck being with so many awesome writers" before they presented the adapted, documentary and original screenplay honors. Returning to the mike after Boal used part of his acceptance speech to praise the former's film "Funny People," Apatow muttered, "I don't know what it is, I just like that guy."

 

The writing staff of "Saturday Night Live," led by head writer Seth Meyers, and the staff of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," led by head writer Steve Bodow, split the award for best comedy/variety series.

"I want to thank Jeff Zucker for having nothing to do with our show and network," said "The Daily Show's" Tim Carvell from the New York stage. (The NBC Universal chief was the target of several digs in L.A., as well, including presenter Chris Rock's zinger that he's "the Elgin Baylor of TV.")

WGA-award winner Barry Levinson ("Avalon") received the guild's Laurel Award for Screen from presenter Billy Crystal (as well as Robin Williams and Tom Fontana via video); Anthony Peckham ("Invictus," "Sherlock Holmes") received the Paul Selvin Award from presenter Morgan Freeman; and Carl Gottlieb ("Jaws") received the Morgan Cox Award from WGA West president John Wells.

"I sometimes think that writers are the only people in the business who care what words mean," said Gottlieb.

The biggest, most consistent laughs came during Jason Alexander's presentation of the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television to previous WGA-award winner Larry David ("Seinfeld," "Curb Your Enthusiasm"), who received a standing ovation.

Writer-director-producer Larry Charles chipped in at length via video, noting that "Paddy Chayefsky was an angry, screaming person, too, so this was a good match."

 

David took the stage by apologizing to Chayefsky and finished by noting that something bad always happens to him after something good. "It's a great honor," David said. "But it's not worth getting hit by a bus. So thank you, Writers Guild, for the death sentence."

At the New York ceremony, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., via video message, and Meyers lauded Alan Zweibel, who accepted a lifetime achievement award. Zweibel recounted how the first joke he ever wrote wrung its punch line from a Hasidic orgy.

Other special award recipients earning standing ovations in New York included Gary David Goldberg ("Family Ties," "Spin City"), who picked up the fourth-ever Herb Sargent award for excellence in comedy writing and inspiring others, and playwright Edward Albee, who was honored for contributions bringing dignity to writers everywhere.

Additional presenters included past WGA winner Diablo Cody and John Corbett, Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme, David Shore and Hugh Laurie, Rock and Ali LeRoi and David Henrie and Todd J. Greenwald of "Wizards of Waverly Place."

Scott Cooper ("Crazy Heart"), Nora Ephron ("Julie & Julia"), Geoffrey Fletcher ("Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire") and Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman ("Star Trek") were also up for the WGA's adapted screenplay honor. Also nominated in the original screenplay category were Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for "(500) Days of Summer," Joel and Ethan Coen for "A Serious Man," James Cameron for "Avatar" and Jon Lucas and Scott Moore for "The Hangover."

Georg Szalai reported from New York, Jay A. Fernandez from Los Angeles.

A complete list of winners can be found on the next page.



2010 WRITERS GUILD AWARDS

SCREEN

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Hurt Locker, Written by Mark Boal; Summit

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Up in the Air, Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner; Based upon the novel by Walter Kirn; Paramount

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY
The Cove, Written by Mark Monroe; Lionsgate, Roadside

TELEVISION

DRAMA SERIES
Mad Men, Written by Lisa Albert, Andrew Colville, Kater Gordon, Cathryn Humphris, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Brett Johnson, Erin Levy, Marti Noxon, Frank Pierson, Robin Veith, Dahvi Waller, Matthew Weiner; AMC

COMEDY SERIES
30 Rock, Written by Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tom Ceraulo, Vali Chandrasekaran, Tina Fey, Donald Glover, Steve Hely, Matt Hubbard, Dylan Morgan, Paula Pell, Jon Pollack, John Riggi, Tami Sagher, Josh Siegal, Ron Weiner, Tracey Wigfield; NBC

NEW SERIES
Modern Family, Written by Paul Corrigan, Sameer Gardezi, Joe Lawson, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O'Shannon, Brad Walsh, Caroline Williams, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker; ABC

EPISODIC DRAMA -- any length -- one airing time
"Broken, Part 1 and Part 2" (House), Written by Russel Friend & Garrett Lerner & David Foster & David Shore; Fox

EPISODIC COMEDY -- any length -- one airing time -- TIE
"Apollo, Apollo" (30 Rock), Written by Robert Carlock; NBC

"Pilot" (Modern Family), Written by Steven Levitan & Christopher Lloyd; ABC

LONGFORM -- ORIGINAL -- over one hour -- one or two parts, one or two airing times
Georgia O'Keeffe, Written by Michael Cristofer; Lifetime

LONGFORM -- ADAPTATION -- over one hour -- one or two parts, one or two airing times
Taking Chance, Teleplay by Lieutenant Colonel Michael R. Strobl, USMC (Ret.) and Ross Katz, Based on the short story by Strobl; HBO

ANIMATION -- any length -- one airing time
"Wedding for Disaster" (The Simpsons), Written by Joel H. Cohen; Fox

COMEDY / VARIETY - (INCLUDING TALK) SERIES -- TIE
Saturday Night Live, Head Writer: Seth Meyers, Writers Doug Abeles, James Anderson, Alex Baze, Jessica Conrad, James Downey, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, John Lutz, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Paula Pell, Simon Rich, Marika Sawyer, Akiva Schaffer, John Solomon, Emily Spivey, Kent Sublette, Jorma Taccone, Bryan Tucker, Additional Sketch by Adam McKay, Andrew Steele; NBC

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Head Writer: Steve Bodow, Writers Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Tim Carvell, Wyatt Cenac, Hallie Haglund, JR Havlan, David Javerbaum, Elliott Kalan, Josh Lieb, Sam Means, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart; Comedy Central

COMEDY / VARIETY -- MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES - SPECIALS
Film Independent's 2009 Spirit Awards, Written by Billy Kimball, Neil MacLennan; IFC/AMC

DAYTIME SERIAL
The Young and the Restless, Written by Amanda L. Beall, Tom Casiello, Lisa Connor, Janice Ferri Esser, Eric Freiwald, Jay Gibson, Scott Hamner, Marla Kanelos, Beth Milstein, Natalie Minardi Slater, Melissa Salmons, Linda Schreiber, James Stanley, Sandra Weintraub, Teresa Zimmerman; CBX

CHILDREN'S EPISODIC & SPECIALS
"Welcome to the Jungle" (The Troop), Written by Max Burnett; Nickelodeon

CHILDREN'S SCRIPT -- LONGFORM OR SPECIAL
Another Cinderella Story, Written by Erik Patterson, Jessica Scott; ABC Family

DOCUMENTARY -- CURRENT EVENTS
"The Madoff Affair" (Frontline), Written by Marcela Gaviria, Martin Smith; PBS

DOCUMENTARY -- OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS
"The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer" (American Experience), Written by David Grubin; PBS

NEWS -- REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN OR BREAKING REPORT
World News with Charles Gibson, Written by Lee Kamlet, Julia Kathan, Joel Siegel

NEWS -- ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY
"A Private War: Expose: America's Investigative Reports" (Bill Moyers Journal), Written by Thomas M. Jennings; PBS

RADIO

DOCUMENTARY
2008 Year in Review, Written by Gail Lee; CBS

NEWS -- REGULARLY SCHEDULED OR BREAKING
World News This Week, July 11, 2009, Written by Darren Reynolds; ABC Radio

NEWS -- ANALYSIS, FEATURE OR COMMENTARY
Paul Harvey: An American Life, Written by Stu Chamberlain; ABC Radio

PROMOTIONAL WRITING AND GRAPHIC ANIMATION

ON-AIR PROMOTION (RADIO OR TELEVISION)
"Vegas" (Dateline), "The Wanted" Promo, NBC Nightly News Promo, "Iran" (Dateline), "Cheat" (Dateline), Written by Barry Fitzsimmons; NBC

TELEVISION GRAPHIC ANIMATION
"Hudson Splashdown" (CBS Evening News with Katie Couric), David M. Rosen, Shannon L. Toma; CBS

VIDEOGAME WRITING
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Written by Amy Hennig; Sony Computer Entertainment