Scripter Award to 'Air' writers

Literary Achievement Award honors to Eric Roth

"Up in the Air" author Walter Kirn and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, the Oscar-nominated screenwriters behind the big-screen version of the book, won the 22nd Annual USC Libraries Scripter Award for Paramount's "Up in the Air."

The Scripters, which recognize the author and scribes of a produced literary work-to-film adaptation, were held at a gala ceremony Saturday night at USC.

The "Air" team beat out the writers behind "Crazy Heart" (author Thomas Cobb and filmmaker Scott Cooper), "District 9" (writers-filmmakers Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell), "An Education" (author Lynn Barber and writer Nick Hornby) and "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (novelist Sapphire and scribe Geoffrey Fletcher).

"How does it feel to stand on the shoulders of a giant?" Kirn quipped when he stepped on stage. He said he was not one of those authors who complained that the movie adaptation ruined his work; he pointed out that his book, with a crashing plane on the cover, was published near when the events of Sept. 11 happened, killing sales. He also pointed out that, due to the movie's popularity, when people now think of his main character, instead of an addled, ulcerated neurotic, they think of George Clooney.

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"Thank you guys," he said to Reitman and Turner, "you did a miracle."

Turner thanked Reitman for finding "a way to hurdle over the walls I could not," while Reitman, a USC alum, noted the importance of collaboration in an adaptation. He credited not just Kirn and Turner but also his wife Michelle, and touchingly, the 25 unemployed workers that he used for the movie's moving interstitials where they spoke from the heart.

"These final writers brought a touch of authenticity that none of us could," Reitman said.

The Scripters also honored Eric Roth, the writer behind such adaptations as "Forrest Gump" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with the Scripter Literary Achievement Award Honoree, which honors a writer who has made a sustained contribution to the art of adaptation.